South Florida Jewish and Christian leaders join Muslim community in prayer

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Religious leaders and local government officials from around South Florida joined the Muslim community, Friday, to partake in their traditional Friday prayer service in an effort to symbolize solidarity in times of uncertainty.

Rabbis, pastors, priests and local government officials attended traditional Friday afternoon prayer services across South Florida to worship in solidarity and let those of the Muslim faith know that they support them.

Mayor of Miami Gardens Oliver Gilbert and State Representative Nick Duran shared words of support to the congregation during a service in Miami Gardens.

The services, Friday, were part of a worldwide day of action against President Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration and his ban against Muslim refugees and immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries.

The message they are sharing both in South Florida and nationwide is simple: “We are all American.”

“We’ve got a lot of support from our neighbors and friends, especially Christians and Jews,” said Khalid Mira, chairman of the Muslim Communities Association of South Florida. “They’ve been calling us, sending e-mails, sending us letters, so we decided to let them come over here to gather, so we can sit together and have a prayer together as the three Abrahamic religions.”

“It shows that we believe that love is stronger than hate and that we are here to stand in solidarity,” said Wili Allen-Faiella, of St. Stephens Episcopal Church. “When one of us is hurting, we’re all hurting.”

Some said they empathize with those of the Muslim faith. “My family were refugees that were escaping persecution in Europe, and so I feel so deeply and so strongly that we have to have empathy,” said Mara Leventhal, a Jewish woman.

“I think that it’s important that we are a welcoming country,” said Donald Bierman.

And this sense of solidarity, Friday, went beyond the prayer service.

Students at Florida International University held a rally on campus in opposition to President Trump’s executive orders on immigration, earlier in the day.

Their primary concern is for their immigrant or undocumented peers who are currently able to study at FIU because of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“A lot of us have personal connections to it,” said student and protest organizer Galina Abdelaziz. “If not our family, then our friends and our classmates. These are people that we care about, and people that we love and people that deserve to be here, and we want to make sure that they are able to stay.”

“We just want you to publicly step up with millions of other universities who have said they will be sanctuary, and they will do everything they can to protect their immigrant students,” said Juan Carlos Caravantes.

Larry Lunsford, Vice President of Student Affairs at FIU, reassured students that protecting their rights is the school’s utmost priority.

“We will continue to follow current law in regard to DACA, or other federal laws that may come out, and currently, those haven’t been changed,” he explained. “We’re concerned about our student’s rights and responsibilities, and we are committed to protecting them.”

The overall message of the protesters is that they will stand up with all immigrants and refugees.

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