On Saturday morning, a Texas mosque was burned to the ground. On Sunday night, a gunman killed six Muslims during prayers at a Canadian mosque. And then there was President Trump’s executive order on refugees over the weekend, which was targeted at seven Muslim-majority countries.
Of course “there is a lot of fear” these days in Charlotte’s Muslim community, says Atif Chaudry, the imam, or prayer leader, at the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte.
“I am getting messages from parents and congregants asking about extra security,” said Chaudry, who leads a mosque of about 1,000 members on The Plaza.
But local Muslims are also heartened, he said, by shows of support by non-Muslims in Charlotte.
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Over the weekend, many non-Muslims – including several Christian ministers – gathered near the Charlotte airport to join in protests of Trump's executive order.
And Rabbi Judy Schindler and others are encouraging non-Muslim women to show their solidarity with Muslim women on Wednesday by donning hijabs, or head scarves, for World Hijab Day.
Schindler, who now directs the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte, said she wanted to do something as a sign of her support for Muslims in Charlotte and for Muslim refugees banned from entering the United States because of President Trump’s order.
“As a Jew, I feel it is my obligation to speak out in support of other minorities,” she said. “My father was a refugee (from Germany), fleeing the Holocaust. Jews were clearly turned away (from the United States) in the 1940s. They heard much of the same rhetoric then that we are hearing now.”
Schindler, rabbi emerita at Charlotte’s Temple Beth El, has posted a photo of herself wearing a hijab on her website and on Facebook and has urged others to wear the head scarf on World Hijab Day.
Among the responses from her Facebook friends: Two Jewish friends who are traveling Wednesday “reflecting on what it would mean to travel (wearing a hijab),” Schindler said. “That could be more fearful.”
On Monday, Rose Hamid, president of Muslim Women of the Carolinas, posted the photo of Schindler wearing a hijab on her Facebook page.
“Yes, there are awful things happening in the world,” Hamid wrote. “But these are the things that bring me joy. ... My dear friend Rabbi Judy Schindler supporting World Hijab Day.”
Last Saturday, Hamid’s group sponsored a “Muslim Connection” get-together that drew many more non-Muslim women than expected.
The event at Amelie’s French Baker and Cafe in NoDa was designed to forge “a heart-to-heart connection” between Muslim women and non-Muslim women, Hamid said on Facebook. “I thought maybe 30 people would show up. We had over 100.”
One non-Muslim woman passed out yard signs that read: “We Support Our Muslim Sisters & Brothers.”
Chaudry, the imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, said he’d gotten supportive calls in recent days from Rabbi Schindler and Presbyterian clergy.
“Regardless of all the negativity (in the news),” he said, “we’re still very hopeful because of all the positive feedback from faith-based organizations that stand for equality and inclusiveness.”
At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, another Charlotte mosque will have a “World Hijab Day Debriefing.” Along with Muslim Women of the Carolinas, the mosque, the Muslim American Society at 4301 Shamrock Drive, is inviting those who experienced the day wearing a hijab to come and share their experiences.
In addition, a noon rally is planned Wednesday at Charlotte’s Romare Bearden Park to show support for Muslim women who wear a hijab and those who don’t.