Aftermath of Corvallis bombing attempt and mosque arson . . .
You probably read or heard the news about the attempted firebombing of the Portland Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, and the subsequent arson attack on the Corvallis Mosque. You may also have read about the large gathering of people from the community who showed up to demonstrate support. Below is a first-person account of that gathering from a close friend of mine, Nancy, who is a devout Christian. The writing is so heartfelt that I had to share it with you.
After the OSU former student Mohamed tried to blow up the Portland Christmas Tree lighting ceremony Friday evening and was arrested, someone(s) tried to firebomb the Corvallis mosque Sunday morning early. The cops happened to see smoke shortly after it happened, & the fire was out by about 2:15 a.m. The Muslim congregation arrived for their annual celebration of Eid al-Adha that afternoon & had to deal with the loss. The police and the FBI were immediately notified, of course, and a major investigation is on.
Also, once they heard about the mosque fire, people from Corvallis, horrified by the news, showed up and offered support over the past two days, bringing flowers, contributions, and expressions of solidarity. This morning there was an article in our paper stating there would be a vigil at 5:30 p.m. at Salman Al-Farisi Islamic Center, and those who came should bring candles or a flashlight in order to surround the mosque with light. I felt strongly it was the right thing to do to go, so I went. I felt we should demonstrate love to the victims of this horrid attack! Apparently, not only did I want to show love and support, but so did hundreds of other people! There was a traffic jam getting there, but I made it, and crammed into the outdoor space behind the mosque with my umbrella along with the hundreds of others and listened to several people speak. A policewoman lifted the yellow police tape so we could all enter. There were huge puddles, inches deep, it stopped nobody; I chose to stand in a lake so I could get closer and have any kind of a view. We just slogged through them and got wet feet. It was pouring, people had umbrellas, you couldn't see much unless you lucked out and the people in front of you left, but you could feel the solidarity and support, and all were respresented--all ages, races, sexes, and, I assume, faiths. The mayor said he knew Corvallis was full of people who would come together to show support like this, a Quaker lady taught everybody a song about peace and said they'd started a chapter of the organization "Not in My Town" here, the Jewish rabbi spoke and referred twice to "our Muslim brethren", the Congregational minister organized the whole event and another Christian pastor spoke emphasizing love for all people--and all of them emphasized how wrong & heinous both deeds were. A lady from the Islamic group in Portland spoke thanking people for coming, then the local imam spoke and thanked everyone for all the support over the last days, plus said several times how much it meant to him and all the others in his congregation that SOOOO many people showed up on a very cold and very rainy night to be supportive! He also talked about how we all are one family, and urged people not to bring wars being fought internationally home here. Quite moving at the end was that he said he and the other Muslims had chosen to forgive the person or persons for their deed. But he spoke clearly out against terrorism, violence, and abuse of any kind--spiritual, mental, or physical! There was a lot of applause for him at various places in his speech. I could see his people gathered near him, and they seemed moved, too, that so many of us showed up. Some were teary. I felt it was crucial to go--it's just right to show love, God IS love, He loves all people, and so should we! At one point I looked up and noticed that the window high in the tower had a hole with cracks emanating from it, and I wondered if someone threw a stone 40 feet high or shot through the window...because the container with the flammable liquid had been thrown into the window at ground level, since the office is part underground. I haven't heard the window damage talked about on the news, it's all about the office and bottom of the building, but I guess they'll figure that out, too. It made me really sad that anybody would do these things.
After the 30-minutes of speeches, we were encouraged to take our candles/lights and spread out to surround the building. (I'd taken a flashlight because I'm no expert at keeping candles lit in pouring rain. Most people, though, brought candles.) It turned out that because of fences you couldn't just surround the building, you had to surround a quarter of the block. There were enough people to do that, and sometimes they were two deep! I also thought that was great--that so many people came! Love was really expressed! We stayed five or ten minutes with lights shining, then, ceremony over, people left. People didn't leave fast, though, they lingered. I saw many talking to the Muslims and each other, and I prayed while looking at the mosque awhile. I thought of how the Jewish rabbi had shared that tomorrow Hannukah, their Feast of Lights, starts, and how appropriate it was that we all surrounded the mosque tonight with light to make a statement against darkness. The whole light thing was beautiful and symbolic, and although many of the Muslims who showed up seemed nervous (after all, if anybody evil wanted to do anything, it was announced the whole day there would be a huge gathering there--we could have been targeted, too. I thought of that, but went anyway), they also seemed very grateful for all the love and support. I also saw some men dressed in suits, clean-shaven (i.e., not too Oregonian looking), who were continuously glancing nervously around--I think the FBI was there, too. The TV news and newspapers were there, too, to cover it all. It was a very meaningful event!
I just had to share this with you, since it was very meaningful to me (and, I believe, to the whole community!), and this type of event doesn't happen everyday. When my friend in southern California told me on the phone last night she'd heard about the mosque burning in Corvallis, I realized we're in the world spotlight right now, and that for sure doesn't happen here often!