Mary Jo Tully
Mary Jo Tully
Portland faith leaders took part in a vigil at City Hall Dec. 16, calling for an end to Islamophobia.

“The terrorism that has occurred at San Bernardino, in Paris, and what is happening throughout the world no more defines Islam than the Crusades or the Inquisition defines Christianity,” said Mary Jo Tully, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Portland.
Standing behind Tully were rabbis, ministers and an imam.  

“It seems to have become a part of human nature that people look for a community that they perceive as embodying what they fear,” Tully said. “Almost every Muslim alive bears no direct culpability for terrorist acts. These are attacks on every faith community, including Islam.”

Over the past weeks, a man set fire to a a California mosque and a woman hurled slurs and hot coffee at Muslims praying in the San Francisco Bay area.  

“We stand by the principle that to attack any religion in the United States is to do violence to the religious freedom of all,” Tully told the crowd at City Hall.

Tully criticized those who make a “simplistic connection” between Islam and violence, explaining that conflicts erupt under complex circumstances.

“Our times challenge all of us to come to a deeper level of understanding and engagement with Islam,” she said. “We are those who have the power to say: ‘Be not afraid.’ My greatest wish is that each of you will speak words of peace to your family, to your friends, and to your acquaintances. Let those words drown out words of fear and hostility.”

The group gathered in advance of a City Council vote to approve a resolution condemning the spread of Islamophobia.

“At times like these, when many are sowing seeds of division and fear, it is heartening to know that there are good people in Portland taking a stand to uphold equal rights for all people,” said Wajdi Said, executive director of Portland’s Muslim Educational Trust.