WASHINGTON — The Falls Church, Virginia mosque recently attacked with Molotov cocktails and a hoax bomb played host to a dozen elected leaders Friday, all of whom expressed messages of tolerance, love and respect.
“This is a trying time we’re all living through,” Sen. Barbara Favola told members of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center. “Now is the time to stand up, to show the world who we are.”
The visiting politicians attended a prayer service inside the mosque, then gathered with community members outside to condemn the anti-Islamic sentiment expressed by some following the recent mass murder attacks in Paris and California.
“Like so many minorities in the history of this country, this is a time when you get stereotyped, treated unfairly and are the object of so much abuse,” Rep. Don Beyer, D-Virginia, said. “Our presence here today is [to show] that we have to come together as a community of tolerance, respect and inclusion.”
The elected leaders expressed solidarity with the community, saying they know it must be “difficult, frightening and lonely” to face such bigotry.
“Every time I’ve been here,” Beyer said, “all I’ve heard is a message of goodness, of charity, of peace and of taking care of each other.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said she hopes the message of tolerance and respect will “drown out” the anti-Islamic messages. Speaking candidly with the diverse crowd, Norton said she understood the feeling of being “a few among the many.”
“So I come today, not in sympathy,” Norton said. “I come today in solidarity.”