Dozens Come Together for Unity Day Event in Mulberry

      Comments Off on Dozens Come Together for Unity Day Event in Mulberry
Spread the love

Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 6:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 11:43 p.m.
MULBERRY | Fazal Qureshi, a Muslim from Orlando, wore hisAmerican flag necktie Wednesday.

Photo Galleries

He loves America. It’s the greatest country in the world, he said.
As followers of Islam, Qureshi and his family drove from Orlando to the Mulberry Civic Center to be at the 10th Annual Unity Day by 8:46 a.m. — the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower 12 years ago.
Qureshi and more than 50 other people of differing races, cultures, backgrounds and faith came together to try to promote peace and unity, while remembering the people who gave their lives in New York City.
“We have to convey the message that Islam does not support terrorism to you and to the whole world,” Qureshi said. “Love for all; hatred for none.”
Mike Ghouse, president of the Dallas-based World Muslim Congress, led the 10th Annual Unity Day to counter in a peaceful manner a Gainesville pastor’s plan to burn 2,998 Qurans in a Mulberry park later that afternoon.
Terry Jones on Tuesday was denied a permit to burn the books in Loyce E. Harpe Park, but said he planned to still go through with the event. Instead, he was arrested on traffic-related offenses for driving on an open road with kerosene in the grill.
At the morning’s program, Ghouse said everyone is entitled to their freedom of speech, including Jones, but he was bringing the group of city government officials and residents of differing faiths together to show the world the power of respect.
“We are told to love our neighbors and that is what we’re here to do,” he said.
Ghouse urged respect to people of all faiths, races, ethnicities and cultures, because with understanding, comes a worldwide balance.
“If you can learn to respect the otherness in others, then conflicts fade,” he said.
Mulberry Mayor George Hatch and Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields were honored at the event for their community support of unity among all people.
Hatch said he hopes the world will see the peace that’s in Mulberry instead of the hate Jones might bring at his book burning. No matter the size of Mulberry, Hatch said it was amazing that the community came together to show its unity.
“I hope the world will not judge our community from the actions of one man who is not from here,” Hatch said. “The message we want to send to people around the world is: We respect freedom of religion.”
During the program, Ghouse had attendees come forward and share a message about their beliefs. A line of people from different races, cultures, backgrounds and faiths held candles and passed the light to their neighbor to symbolize the spreading of brightness among each other.
Halfway through the program, Ghouse said a prayer for the fallen heroes who died Sept. 11, 2001, from a few “bad apples” in the Muslim faith.
“If we don’t stand up for others, why should anyone stand up for us?” Ghouse said.
He said he accepts Jones’ faith and respects his freedom of speech, but residents should remember to seek a peaceful approach when responding to any hate. And everyone should learn to accept each other’s differences because that is what makes America unique, he said.
“As an American and as an American Muslim, I just want Muslims around the world to know how we came together,” Ghouse said. “Polk County is a beautiful county.”
[ Stephanie Allen can be reached at stephanie.allen@theledger.comor 863-802-7550. ]

Spread the love