By Abdus Sattar Ghazali: American Muslim Voice (AMV) held Multifaith Peace Picnic & Prayer Service on September 11 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. The event, held at the Palo Alto City Hall, was sponsored by American Muslim Voice, Senator Dave Cortese of CA State Senate and Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice. The event was co-sponsored by more than 30 civil advocacy groups and religious faiths.
The event was held with the AMV theme: Replacing the culture of despair, division & violence with a culture of hope, inclusion & peace. Omar Naeem Raza was emcee of the program.
The program, which included brief speeches and singing, began with Recitation of the holy Quran by Hafiz Hassaan Haq.
Addressing the audience, Palo Alto CA Vice Mayor Pat Brut referred to the general response to the 9/11 tragic terrorist attacks and said: “We have a choice. We can scum to the temptation and respond in time and reciprocal of intolerance or choose what we are doing today, holding together to build peace and honor our diversity and embracing all who hold in common. That is what we do when we bread together like tonight.”
Cantor Jaime Shpall from the Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills offered the Jewish prayer. Rev. Dr .Debra Murray from the First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto, offered Christian prayer. Maryam Mostaghimi, Member of the Baháí Community of Palo Alto, offered Bahai prayer.
Farha Andrabi, President Of MVPA Musalla ( Mosque), spoke about the impact of 9/11 on the people at large and Muslims in particular.
Samina Sundas, the founder of American Muslim Voice Foundation, suggested a Moment of Silence to honor the victims of the 9/11 tragedy. In her speech Samina Sundas reiterated her message of unity among all and to transform this tragic day into one of peace and community building. Let us sow the seeds of new friendships by getting to know each other a little bit better.
Machelle Ahmed in her melodious voice presented “Imagine” written by John Lennon.
E’Jaaz Ali, Former FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. US Army Signals Intelligence Veteran, shared his thought about the 9/11 tragic event. He lamented that thousands of precious lives were lost of 9/11 but also during the last 20 years of wars.
Punhal Chaudry, ten years old from Bullis Charter school, presented a brief speech about unity. She stressed there is no peace without unity. Noor Navaid, spoke about an unlikely friendship between a 9/11 family member and a detainee at Guantánamo.
Kansen Chu, Former Assembly Member from 25thDistrict , in his brief speech stressed that hate can be countered through unity. Kansen Chu represents Asian Americans. He said 9/11 was an attack on all of us. In the aftermath of 9/11, Muslims were target of hate crimes and now Chinese Americans are, Chu said adding that we have to be united to fight the hate crimes.
Zanaib Ali spoke about Honoring the Peace Makers.
Mary Klein from Palo Alto Friends Meeting, in her speech said that 9/11 gave a pretest to wage wars throughout the globe without authorization by the congress. “For 20 years the state of endless wars has pushed the mindset of militarism here into the cities and towns in our homeland.
Naiel Chaudry, 12 years old from Bullis Charter School, sang “You will be found” from the Broadway Musical.
Beth Am’s Children Choir sang the song "One Day.” Karen Bergen and llona Pollak, from the Congregation Etz Chayim also presented a song. Elaine Moise from Congregation Keddem sang the Jewish prayer "Avinu Malkeinu."
A group from the Sri Sathya Sai International Organization (SSSIO) presented a spiritual song: “Love, Peace, Righteousness & Truth.”
Eric Sabelman from Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice offered closing remarks. The event ended with a candlelight vigil.
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