The Associated Press
With pageantry and prayers, religious leaders around the country marked the Sept. 11 anniversary yesterday with words of consolation and calls for harmony during special services.
In St. Louis, Muslim Imam Waheed Rana thanked Americans for their tolerance following the terrorist attacks. “Our community is like a body. When one part of the body is injured, the whole body feels the pain,” he said.
“We can embrace each other,” Reform Rabbi Susan Talve said at the outdoor ceremony. Added Roman Catholic Archbishop Justin Rigali: “We reject every call of bigotry.”
Many sermons urged fair treatment for American Muslims, who have protested clampdowns on their charities and mosques and the indefinite detention of immigrants.
“We pray for safety, but we also pray for those profiled and deported since Sept. 11,” the Rev. John Marsh, a Unitarian Universalist, told an interfaith ceremony at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
Hundreds of religious services were held nationwide to remember the victims of the suicide hijackings that struck New York, Pennsylvania and the Washington area. Worshippers wept as church bells tolled and the names of the victims were read from altars. Later, the faithful gathered at evening candlelight vigils.
In a televised address to the nation with several religious references, President Bush said Americans “respect the faith of Islam” and only fight those who “defile that faith.”
The Fiqh Council of North America, a supreme court of Islamic scholars who interpret religious law, issued an anniversary statement condemning the attacks as violations of Muslim teachings.
Haider Bhuiyan, principal of the Islamic Academy of Alabama, told students that terrorists “are committing sin and on the day of judgment they will have to pay for this.” Attending a prayer service in the Islamic Center of Southern California, Hoda Eltantawi said, “What hurt the country hurt us, too. We are a part of it.”
At a Washington Mass, Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said people of faith should form “a holy and unshakable coalition for peace.”
A few blocks from New York’s ground zero, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, the world Anglican leader, spoke at the restored Trinity Church, urging Americans to remain connected to the world and to consider how their actions affect other nations.
“The United States, with its immense potential to make a difference in the world, faces the daunting challenge of wielding power and influence with others in ways that do justice,” Carey said.
Speaking at New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary, Chancellor Ismar Schorsch said “religious fanaticism, with its contempt for human life and intolerance of the other, threatens to demolish” Judeo-Christian values.
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, leading prayers for international dignitaries at Washington’s National Cathedral, called the attacks “an outrage of unspeakable horror and evil.”
In Lansing, Mich., several hundred people held candles during a vigil Wednesday night at a downtown park and representatives of various religions led prayers. Said Omer Sobhani of the East Lansing Islamic Center, “The road to peace is not an easy one, but it is the best and only choice.”