Salisbury Press

Sunday, May 26, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL CMILDr. Mirza Baig, vice president of the Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley, Whitehall Township, addresses community and faith-based leaders March 15 on the terrorist attacks at two mosques in New Zealand. PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL CMILDr. Mirza Baig, vice president of the Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley, Whitehall Township, addresses community and faith-based leaders March 15 on the terrorist attacks at two mosques in New Zealand.

‘We will continue to stand together’

Thursday, March 28, 2019 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley opens doors to community after New Zealand attacks

The Muslim community called a news conference in Whitehall Township March 15 to express its sorrow and outrage at the attack earlier that day on two New Zealand mosques. The loss of life from such a wanton violation of human decency shocked the world.

The Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley opened its doors to others in the community. Dr. Mirza Baig, MALV vice president, welcomed members of all different faiths who had gathered. In his address, Imam Basheer Bilaal described Islam and how the death of one member of the Muslim family affects all.

“Our hearts are heavy in mourning for the lives lost. We must not let terrorism stop us from openly worshiping God and practicing our faith,” he said. “We will continue to stand together.”

Rabbi Seth Phillips, of Congregation Keneseth Israel, Allentown, expressed his sorrow.

“We want our Muslim brothers and sisters to know that you are not alone,” he said.

As these members of the Muslim community had mourned the loss of Jewish lives in the aggravated attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh Oct. 27, 2018, the Jewish community came out to support the Muslim community.

Bethlehem Interfaith Council members Rabbi Michael Singer and the Rev. Beth Goudy gave their condolences and pledged to offer their support as well.

“An attack on anyone because of race, religion or culture is an attack on humanity and cannot be condoned,” the Rev. Larry Pickens, representing the Lehigh County Conference of Churches said.

It was expected that the local Muslim community would be joined by members of other faiths. All faiths are founded on peace and brotherhood, each in its own distinctive way.

Public officials joined in expressing their sorrow and presenting comforting words.

The gathering was followed by a candlelight vigil March 17 at Seventh and Hamilton streets, Allentown, with readings and prayers.

The wisdom MALV extended to the community goes beyond the prayers.

There will be an open house at the mosque, 1988 Schadt Ave., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27. The atmosphere at the open house is one of understanding and fellowship with information on Islam.