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When Unitarian Universalists approved a resolution recently to show solidarity with Muslims, they had more in mind than just words on paper.

They wanted to send a message about fighting Islamophobia and resisting bigotry toward Muslims, so they organized a meeting with Metro Detroit Muslim religious leaders.

On Thursday, the MidAmerica Unitarian Universalist Association met with imams in Southfield, an effort to increase understanding of Islam within and beyond its congregations.

“We see so much hate directed toward the Muslim community from non-Muslims, and our tradition believes in standing on the side of love as opposed to hate. Even if we don’t agree on everything, we can at least be in dialogue,” said Eric Huffer, president of the MidAmerica Unitarian board. Huffer read the resolution at the gathering at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church on Thursday.

The interfaith meeting drew about 30 people, including Imam Achmat Salie, who said Muslims cannot fight Islamophobia alone.

“We need non-Muslims to stand with us,” said Salie, with the American Muslim Leadership Council and a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Detroit Mercy.

The Rev. Kimi Riegel, minister of Northwest UU Church, said the meeting was held to encourage congregations to build bridges to the Muslim community. The MidAmerica Unitarian Universalist Association resolution calls for the Unitarian Universalist Association “to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

The resolution also says “an additional layer of fear, prejudice and xenophobia have arisen following the Paris and San Bernadino terrorist attacks in 2015; and the refugee crisis in Syria has become a target of this fear, prejudice and xenophobia.

The rhetoric used by GOP candidates in the presidential primary race, additionally, was troubling, she said.

“We are absolutely disgusted that someone who is running for president of the United States would spew such hate toward Muslims,” Riegel said.

Universalists, she said, are called to seek justice for all people, not just those in their religious path.

“We are a small minority, so we know what it is like not to be part of the majority. And we also have a strong history of religious freedom.”

Natasha Dado is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

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