People from all walks of life and religious backgrounds came together under one roof on Saturday to mourn the victims of this week’s terrorist attacks at a pair of New Zealand mosques, and to make a statement against hate.
The event at the Muslim Community Center in suburban Morton Grove was packed to the rafters on Saturday night, requiring overflow rooms for those who came to show their support of a community dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy a half a world away.
“This has been tough on us, so this is great,” vigil attendee Ghizala Khan said.
There were plenty of tears shed, as over 1,000 people stood together at the community center to turn sadness into strength.
“It was completely different to see all these people come out from the synagogue, from the churches, and to see that outpouring of love,” Khan said. “It was very overwhelming.”
Numerous speakers of varying faiths spoke at the event, as did several politicians, including Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
“When I come here and I look around this room, that’s what’s bringing tears to my eyes right now,” she said.
There was some additional security at the event, but the true message that organizers hoped visitors would take away is that hope can overshadow fear in the face of tragedy.
“Being here, this is our reality. This is our America,” Khan said. “So, hopefully we can make a change.”