Local leaders from various religions came together Tuesday to show support for the Muslim community in Rhode Island.
Speaking before a crowd at the Islamic Center of Rhode Island in Providence, the group said they hope to clear up confusion about the Muslim faith through education.
Muslims attending the event said they need the community’s support more than ever as hateful remarks about their religion play out on the national stage.
“Once you turn on the television or turn on the radio and you hear the anti-Islam rhetoric,” said Wendy Ibrahim. “It creates a form of fear, like do I hide my family, do I need to hide my children?”
The Warwick native is one of many Muslim Americans who are worried about being targeted over their faith. She said she refuses to hide or be silent, which was a similar sentiment brought forth by leaders of other faiths.
“I bring support as a Christian, I bring support as an American citizen,” said Rt. Reverend Nicholas Knisely, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. “Our nation was founded on an ideal that all people’s faith will be respected.”
The meeting comes after controversial remarks from three Republican presidential candidates. Within the last three months, Ben Carson said a Muslim shouldn’t be president, Chris Christie said the United States shouldn’t accept any Syrian refugees and Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims altogether.
“The Jewish tradition teaches that silence is like agreement, and we don’t agree,” said Rabbi Sarah Mack of the Rhode Island Board of Rabbis.
“We will not tolerate xenophobia, racism and bigotry in Rhode Island,” added Jim Vincent, president of the NAACP’s Providence chapter.
Some Muslims have reported that people are watching them more suspiciously after Islamic extremists carried out deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
“With groups like ISIS, I feel as though my religion has been hijacked,” Ibrahim added.
Muslim advocates are planning to continue the dialogue Saturday at an open house at the Islamic Center from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., inviting the public to come learn more about their faith.