In solidarity with Muslim community
To the editor:
This is a letter to the United American Muslim Association of the Berkshires, as well as the general Muslim community in the area.
As-salamu alaykum, the peace be upon you.
Growing up all my life in Pittsfield, I have many memories of strolling playfully with friends or walking happily past your doors — perhaps I was on my way to swim practice or basketball game at the Boys and Girls Club, or to exercise at the YMCA. Noticing the illustration of the beautiful building on your windows, and the flowing calligraphy of Arabic, I always felt a youthful curiosity and interest about what lay beyond those curtains. At the time, I imagined this inquisitiveness to be a similar emotion felt by many of my Christian peers when walking past my synagogue and its Hebrew letters.
However, walking past your doors now, as a young adult and critical thinker, aware of the increasing Islamophobia and general xenophobia in the United States, I realize many people may not walk past your doors as I once did, and still do, with humble curiosity and respect. Especially in light of Donald Trump's and the Republican candidates' recent and highly public hate speech and fear-mongering during the presidential debates, I wonder if people, misguided by ignorance and fear, may walk past your door with suspicion?
Sisters and brothers, for this, I mourn. For all those Muslim people who see, hear, and feel the ongoing ramifications of such vicious scapegoating in this community, country, and abroad, I mourn.
Especially frightening was the Republicans' talk about surveillance in mosques, under the pretense of, "if they have nothing to hide, then why can't we listen?" This is intolerant, fascist logic. This is a violation of privacy, and the right to innocence until proven guilty, the right against searching without warrant. I fear for the Muslim community, as well as myself, as this country moves further and further towards outright authoritarianism.
So I write this letter to you, my heart heavy with disappointment and sadness at the political climate, but also full of respect, love and gratitude for you, my sisters and brothers. Please know that you are recognized, and your presence is valued. Please let this gesture show that you are not alone in the community, and that you are loved. You have touched the heart and life of one young woman in Pittsfield, simply by your presence.
May the Spirit that gives us all life, stirs our souls, and brings love into our lives watch over you and your children, and may there be peace between neighbors, and on Earth.
In gratitude and with blessings,