Cars lined the streets as Cache Valley citizens of all faiths stood side-by-side for a common cause.
Members of Utah State University’s Interfaith Initiative coordinated a gathering to show support for the Muslim community in response to a threat given by a presidential candidate.
The crowds began to assemble today at 12:30 p.m. in front of the Logan Islamic Center.
The gathering was in response to a press release conference on Monday, where the Republican party’s presidential front-runner, Donald Trump said he is “calling for a total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Bonnie Glass-Coffin — a professor of anthropology at Utah State and the faculty lead for USU’s Interfaith Initiative — began collaborating with religious leaders across Cache Valley on Wednesday. They wanted to come together and express their willingness to stand with people of different faith traditions.
“Right now we are dealing with a political candidate who is suggesting that people — simply by the virtue of their religion — are dangerous to society,” Glass-Coffin said. “It is so incredibly hurtful and it does not serve the common good.”
Justin Bishop, a citizen of Logan who attended today’s gathering, served in the Marine Corps in 1991 and was part of a team sent to expel Saddam Hussein —the president of Iraq at the time — out of Kuwait.
“I don’t believe anyone should have to live in fear,” Bishop said. “I am tired of the media and the politicians telling me who I should hate. I served in the Marine Corps to protect American citizens regardless of their views and regardless of the color of their skin.”
According to Glass-Coffin, Cache Valley is not the only place that is in need of religious tolerance.
On Saturday, the words “hunt camp?” were spray painted on the front of the Islamic Center of Twin Falls in Idaho.
Acts of vandalism and harassment on Islamic centers and mosques have been occurring more often as the number of terrorism attacks increase.
“What Trump is doing is trying to feed off people’s fears and promoting the stereotypes that people have against Muslims,” said Ayman Alafifi, a past president of the Logan Islamic Center. “He is just adding more fuel to the fire.”
Alafifi has been working with members of the Logan Islamic Center to educate them on what is happening in the media and U.S. government.
“We are showing them how to engage in conversations without letting themselves get offended when they are asked questions from people who are trying to learn,” Alafifi said. “Sometimes people just don’t know how to ask the right questions so they come off a little bit offensive.”
Glass-Coffin said that assembling together as a community reaffirms their commitment to values such as hospitality, charity, compassion, respect and willingness to treat one another as fully functioning members of society.