Lawmakers, faith leaders stand against hate after mosque attack

Dearborn — A state representative at a gathering Sunday to condemn the terror attacks at two New Zealand mosques urged the multi-faith group to use the deadly rampage as a rallying cry.

After asking for a moment of silence for the 50 victims and others injured in the attacks Friday, Rep. Abdullah Hammoud said anger and sadness should serve as a "rallying cry to mobilize" against hate.

Others at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, including three members of Congress, called for an end to division they say has surfaced in the United States and abroad.

U.S. Rep, Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, told the estimated 2,500 people gathered Sunday: "I'm tired of the hate and fear that is dividing this country. ... Everyone has a responsibility to stand up to this kind of hate."

She was joined by U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, who added: "The attacks jab us in our gut because it's our family, our people, and it's driven by hate."

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, renewed her earlier call for President Donald Trump to condemn white supremacists. She said she plans to have discussions on Capitol Hill next week and pursue congressional hearings on the issue.

The mosque's imam, Ahmad Hammoud, also called on those gathered to come together and fight hate. 

"This kind of act has no place in our community and society, and we should send that message to the whole world," he said.

Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel speaks in front of a backdrop of the victims of the mosque shooting in New Zealand at the Standing Together Against Hate and Terror Community Memorial at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Mich. on March. 17, 2019.

He also warned Muslims.

"From now on, we should be careful ... what we say, our speak, talk, act," said Hammoud. "We should think about the kind of future we are planning to have for our kids. A future of killing, hate or the future of unity ... love."

Rabbi Asher Lopatin from Kehillat Etz Chayim in Detroit came out to support the local Muslim community because that community came out for the Jewish faith when a lone gunman killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh mosque last October, he said.

"We have a common enemy of hatred and we have to look out for each other," Lopatin said. "They want to fill our hearts with hatred and with fear. Let's make a commitment that we fill our hearts with love and with support and with strength."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel  was among the speakers at the memorial.

Nessel reminded those who attended the memorial that she installed a Hate Crimes division, saying her office "will work relentlessly and tirelessly" to prosecute hate crimes.

"There is a cloud of xenophobia that has risen over our country," she said. "We will not back down, we will resist and we will conquer hate together."

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Matthew Schneider said, "We must come forward, we must stand up and speak out when we know, if we see something. We must say something. We must do it."

On Sunday night, the Muslim Unity Center in Oakland County hosted an interfaith prayer vigil to honor the victims of the New Zealand mosque shootings and to affirm the dedication of Metro Detroit’s interfaith community to unity, respect and common purpose, organizers said.

Imam Mohamed Almasmari said the gathering at the Bloomfield Hills center was a stand against bigotry, racism and all other 'isms' that lead to violence.

More than 1,000 people attended.

“This outpouring of support and concern is a manifestation of the love that exists between our different faith traditions and communities in the greater Detroit area,” Almasmari said.

“At this event, we made a collective pledge to stand side-by-side to protect and preserve all of our religious liberty," he said. "And we firmly rejected the bigotry that led to not only New Zealand's recent mosque shootings, but also the massacres in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and the Oak Creak Gurdwara in Wisconsin."

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Detroit News Staff Writer Jennifer Chambers contributed to this report.