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Spokane, let’s counter protest and celebrate Islam on Saturday

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By R. Skyler Oberst

On Sunday I was standing in line for my pumpkin donut when I received a text from a friend.

“DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THESE ANTIMUSLIM PROTESTS?”

Um. What?

As it turns out, across the planet this Saturday, people have been encourage to protest Muslims by picketing outside mosques, masjids, Muslim schools, community centers. A modern-day, global kristalnacht, it would seem. They seek to disenfranchise our community and to pit neighbor against neighbor.

After doing some research, it seemed like there was a good chance of protestors showing up, especially after recent events like graffiti on Muslim prayer spaces and armed opposition to Spokane’s City Council giving a salutation to a non profit which has been working to empower local Muslims to meet with community leaders to discuss putting a stop to incidents of anti Muslim sentiment.

Sitting alone with my phone in my lap, I recalled something that Andrew Young once said, “Hatred is a sickness, and you don’t get mad at sick people, you heal them. And often times, healing is spiritual.”

His words echoed in my mind as I sat down and thought of what to do. If people were to be protesting fellow neighbors and community members in Spokane, how do you reach out to them in a compassionate, nonviolent way?  Perhaps the answer is already in front of us..

When Westboro Baptist Church protested my college campus as an undergrad, we decided to have a party across the street. We had food available for everyone and music provided a great backdrop to the celebration of our shared beliefs. We had 1,200 people show up that day, and not one that I can remember shouted back at Westboro’s signs of hate. We were too busy enjoying one another’s company, and participating in our Beloved Community.

We hope to plan something similar this Saturday. We’re calling on the Spokane community to come celebrate with us, as we get to learn about our Muslim neighbors and remind them that they are welcome and needed here. We can only be fully human with others.

We’ll be at the Spokane Islamic Center on Saturday at 11 a.m. If we are joined by people feeling angry and are looking to protest the Islamic Center, then we are ready to extend them a hand in friendship, and invite them to join us. It’s hard to hate anyone when they hand you a piece of cake. So bring a favorite snack and a favorite joke to share as we continue to celebrate what Spokane is all about—one another!

R. Skyler Oberst
R. Skyler Oberst
R. Skyler Oberst is an interfaith advocate in Spokane and in 2016 won Young Democrat of the Year.

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Gifti
Gifti
8 years ago

Great idea Skyler! I appreciate your thoughtfulness in seeking to create a space for peace.

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[…] RELATED: Spokane, let’s counter protest and celebrate Islam on Saturday […]

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[…] R. Skyler Oberst, writing at Spokane Faith and Values, suggested counter-protesters respond with “a hand in friendship…”  Oberst, […]

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