American Church Hosts Iftar Dinner For
Published by OnIslam Newspapers
CAIRO – Extending help to their fellow Muslim neighbors, churches in a Missouri city have come together to host an Iftar for Joplin local Muslim community after their mosque was burnt down in an arson fire.
“The Council on American-Islamic Relations needed a place,” Father Frank Sierra, rector of Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church, told Christian Post. “They were going to come down in support of the Muslim community and they asked us.”
Mosque Arson Shocks Missouri Faith Leaders
The iftar, which marks the end of a fasting day in Ramadan, was held Wednesday evening at Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church. In addition to St. Philip’s, other Joplin congregations involved in the iftar included South Joplin Christian Church, United Hebrew Congregation, First Community Church and Peace Lutheran Church.
“We have worked with them before on interfaith events that we’ve had with them … It turned out that we, our parish house was best,” Sierra added.
The mosque in southeast Missouri was burned to the ground early Monday in the second arson attack on the Muslim worship place in a month. The mosque’s roof was previously destroyed in a similar arson attack on July 4. No injuries were reported in Monday’s attack, but the building of the Islamic Society of Joplin was a total loss after the blaze.
Immediate investigations were launched by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Jasper County Sheriff’s department. CAIR has recently offered a $10,000 reward for any information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the guilty party.
The arson fire at the Joplin mosque followed the deadly shooting at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
“These disturbing incidents point to the urgent need for increased police protection for Muslim and Sikh houses of worship nationwide,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “If left unchallenged, religious intolerance can and does harm innocent people.”
The Iftar was not the only help offered by the Muslim community as a fundraiser event was planned to reconstruct the burnt mosque.
“At this point in time,” said Sierra, “we are having a group of clergy and churches … we are working on a response that would be an official statement and then we are going to have a fundraiser” to benefit the Islamic Society of Joplin. “At this point, we want to do some type of response, but we are trying to plan it to get as many people involved as possible and to be open to anyone who wants to participate.”
All across the US, mosques have been facing fierce opposition recently. At least 35 mosque projects — from Mississippi to Wisconsin — have found foes who battle to stop them from seeing light citing different pretexts, including traffic concerns and fear of terrorism. Even more, some mosques were vandalized including a 2011 Wichita mosque arson case.
In multicultural New York, a proposed mosque near Ground Zero site has snowballed into a national public and political debate, with opponents arguing that the Muslim building would be an insult to the memory of the 9/11 victims.
Advocates, however, say that the mosque would send a message of tolerance in 9/11-post America.