Religious leaders from around the city gathered at Foley Square on Wednesday night for an Interfaith Vigil for Peace — a show of unity in the wake of Tuesday’s deadly terror attack in Manhattan.
Debbie Almontaser of the Muslim Community Network and Rev. Chloe Breyer of The Interfaith Center of New York said they organized the event so that people of all faiths could mourn and pray together.
About 100 people held small lights and signs that read, “Pray for NYC,” “Faiths for Peace,” and “Religions Against Violence.”
There were songs, meditations and the names of the victims read aloud in a somber remembrance.
Leaders urged the crowd to spread love, but there were some harsh words for the terror suspect and others who commit violence for religious purposes.
“I’m outraged on behalf of my boss, God, who can’t believe the things people do in her name,” said Rev. Jacqui Lewis of the Middle Collegiate Church. “This is no more Muslim than the KKK is an act of Christianity.”
Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer said the tragedy should not be used as a “political opportunity” or to allow bigotry to rise.
“New Yorkers are resilient,” she said. “We have to be.”
Zeshan Hamid of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Queens said he came to the vigil to show solidarity with all New Yorkers.
“I was born and raised in New York,” he said. “If something happens here, it hurts all of us.”
“We have to let those who hate — let them know we are united: Christians, Jews and Muslims of different denominations, everybody,” Hamid said. “This is what they don’t want. They want to split us, but our humanity unites us.”
Hakan Bakkalbasi, a computer programmer from Manhattan, felt compelled to add to the sense of togetherness at the vigil.
“I’ve lived here for 10 years and I was raised Muslim and I think it’s important to be here,” said Bakkalbasi, a computer programmer. “People need to come out. There are a lot of people trying to divide us.”
Meanwhile, the Empire State Building went dark Wednesday night in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the attack.