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Salisbury vigil: We must reject the recipe for more violence

Editor’s note: These are comments delivered at a vigil held Wednesday in Salisbury in memory of the victims of the Orlando mass shooting.

 

By Syed Ahmad

Assalamualaikum. Peace be upon you.

My name is Syed Ahmad. I am a resident of Salisbury for the last 11 years. I am a Muslim born and raised in Malaysia.

I’ve been invited today to speak and I would like to express my grief and mourn for our fellow men and women in Orlando who were murdered and offer prayer for the speedy recovery for the wounded to express my deepest and heartfelt condolences and sympathies for their families.

There have been a lot of emotions running through me the past few days, from horror and outrage of the senseless killing, to sadness for the dead, wounded and their families, to fear that it may happen again like we’ve experienced over and over and over again in the past few years. Fear it may happen to a whole new set of innocent men, women and children in a different place by another violent perpetrator.

I am moved and resolved to do whatever I can even though I am overwhelmed by all the issues confronted in this particular tragedy. I hope I’m guided, not by hate, not by fear, but by compassion and justice for my fellow mankind. Guided by faith in God who directs us to never oppress but defend all people equally and stand firmly against all forms of violence committed against any group, regardless of religious affiliation, creed, color, or sexual orientation.

I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community for their loss. I stand for sensible gun control, not taking gun rights away but sensible gun control. And as the days go by and our shock and horror subside, and understandably the need for payback and justice are heightened, we must resist the extremists in America and abroad who view the world through a Manichean lens — the lens of us and them, where we are good and they are evil: American Manicheans want Americans to see themselves as entirely “good” and all Muslims as entirely “evil.” Muslim Manicheans want Muslims to see themselves as entirely “good” and all Americans as entirely “evil.” This is a catastrophic recipe for unrelenting violence, and it must be rejected. We will not allow the extremists on both sides to define us, mold us in their benighted, backward image, or sow the seeds of discord among us. We are one people, so let us all in good conscience and human solidarity reject this extremist narrative and assert our shared humanity and mutual respect for the sanctity of all human life.

Let us pray.

O God, there is no ease other than what You make easy. Please ease our sorrow.

Truly God takes what is His and what He gives is His, and to all things He has appointed a time … so have patience.

O God, surely the victims of the Orlando shooting are under Your protection, and in the rope of Your security, You fulfill promises and grant rights, have mercy on them and forgive us for our shortcomings. Surely You are Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Ameen.

 

Syed Ahmad is an artist who lives in Salisbury.

 

 

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