TOLEDO – Hundreds of people thronged the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, expressing support for the Muslim community against the recent immigration restrictions enacted by President Donald Trump.
“We’re not the largest community. We’re not the one that’s the most financially endowed,” US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) told the audience who attended the public prayer last Sunday, The Blade reported on Tuesday, February 7.
“But I’ll tell you what, there is a great ethic that operates in our community that is priceless.”
Attendees of the public unity prayer service quickly filled the center’s lecture hall, packed the prayer room, and spilled into adjacent hallways.
“It’s standing room only,” Najwa Badawi, public relations chairman, said as mosque members worked their way through the crowd to find more chairs.
“Our membership has been here for a very long time. We’re good neighbors. We love Toledo, and Toledo loves us, judging from the turnout.”
The event followed Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries came into effect.
The order temporarily bans entry to refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Syria.
Imam Talal Eid said the United States has become a divided nation, adding that recent immigration restrictions compelled him to speak out when he “started to see innocent people being harmed in the name of our nation,” he said.
“This is the first time that I feel that my country, my president, is trying to kill the morale of innocent people,” he said.
A woman denied the ability to come to the United States to visit her husband won’t point a finger at any one individual like President Trump, Imam Eid said.
“She will tell people, ‘Look what America did to me,’ ” he said. “Are you fighting terrorists by doing that? You are making terrorists happy. That’s what they want, to divide us.”
For many of the visitors, it was the first time to enter an Islamic center.
“I really needed some sort of peace and serenity,” Amy Bargy of Point Place said.
“It’s been difficult to find peace and serenity right now. There’s a lot of hate and anger.”
She and friends Lisa Harter and Marcia King, also of Point Place, decided to visit the center for the first time to show support for the Muslim community.
“We support them. We don’t support discrimination and bans and closing our borders,” King said.
“It’s just a way of trying to do something.”
Coming to the US as a child refugee from Hungary, Peter Ujvagi, a Toledo city councilman said the United States is a country built of and by immigrants.
“We need to look at each other, at our neighbors, our friends, our relatives, and remind them all — none of our stories start in America. All of our stories start somewhere else,” Ujvagi said.
Imam Eid urged people of all faiths to bridge divisions peacefully, sending a brief and heartfelt message for President Trump which earned a standing ovation.
“Mr. President, I pray that God would enlighten your heart, that God will help you see truth as a truth, that God would bless you to stand up and unite this nation as a nation, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” he said.