GARDEN CITY, Kansas – Responding to Muslims cry for support, residents of a Kansas city held a love rally last week to show support for their Muslim neighbors who have been gripped with fear in the wake of a foiled bomb plot targeted them.
“When I heard this tragic news, it came to my mind that we – as members of this community and as Christians – should support and protect the local Muslim community,” Reverend Denise Pass, pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Garden City, told Al Jazeera on Sunday, October 23.
Tens of people from the community as well as members of her church took part in the rally around the apartment complex that was to be targeted.
Pass call for the rally followed the arrest of three men last October 14.
The three men were charged in a domestic “terrorism plot” to bomb an apartment complex in Wichita suburbs where several Somali immigrant families lived.
The announcement of the plot by law enforcement agencies sent shockwaves among Muslim residents of Garden city, with the number of Muslims living there , mostly refugees or asylum seekers from Somalia, is estimated to be around 1000 out of a population of 28,000.Though southeast Kansas State is largely conservative, the community at large is not racist, anti-Muslim, or against immigrants, reverend Pass said.
“The actions of few racist individuals should not be taken to represent the whole community, just as the Muslim community should not negatively labeled or held responsible for the actions of the very few terrorists who happened to be Muslims,” she said.
Mursal Naleye, 27, president of the community centre, said he and other members were “heartened by the overwhelming support from the American community in Garden City”.
“We are really thankful for everyone who came out supporting and protecting us, the police, the FBI and the local community,” he said.
Naleye, who came to the US from the war-torn Somalia in 2010, said Somali and other African community members were not involved in anything other work.
“We just want to have a normal life and don’t want to bother anyone,” he said.
Pass warned that the plot was very disturbing to Muslims who feel threatened those days after the White House hopeful Republican Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US if he was elected.
“If I was a Muslim in the US today, I would feel very vulnerable and very threatened, that’s why it is important for us to make a stance here, because we are all God’s children,” said Pass.