Members of the All-Dulles Area Muslim Society came together with first responders from Loudoun and Fairfax for the ADAMS Center’s 15th annual Peace Gathering on Thursday.
The first Peace Gathering at the Sterling mosque was held in 1999 around Thanksgiving, but after Sept. 11, 2001, ADAMS moved the event closer to that date.
“My brothers and sisters, if I had to teach my children what 9/11 meant for all of us, if I had to talk about what 9/11 meant for us, it is not the sadness, the shock, the fear, the anger that we all felt that morning after the atrocity that some of you, and all of us, would probably remember as we sat glued before the TV,” said ADAMS President and CEO Syed Moktadir. He said in the aftermath of 9/11, Americans showed their better nature by pulling together.
“While the intent of the perpetrators were to divide us, we have truly proven as Americas, united together once again,” Moktadir said. “And the true values that our forefathers have set before us as one nation, under God, indivisible, was truly tested and sustained once again.”
ADAMS Board of Trustees Chairman Rizwan Jaka called for a moment of silence, not only for those lives lost on 9/11, but also for victims of hate crimes that came afterward. The daughter and son-in-law of ADAMS community member Sharif Chowdhury, Shakila Yasmin and Nurul Haque Mian, are believed to be the only husband and wife lost together in the 9/11 attacks.
Representatives from a variety of other faiths joined the occasion.
“That was a sad, terrible day for all of us, but it was a day that awaked in all of us what we saw as the hero,” said Mike Trivett of the Christian Fellowship Church. Andrea Barron of the Washington Area Jews for Jewish-Muslim Understanding said resisting Islamophobia “is so important, not only because it’s the moral and right thing to do.”
“Here in America, we need to partner with Muslims like the people from ADAMS,” Barron said. “That is part of the battle against violent extremism. For the people who criticize Muslims, whoever they are, they are making us less safe and less secure.”
Several elected officials also made appearances, including Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling), Del. Jennifer Boysko (D-86), and Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34). Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10) said she could not attend because of legislative duties, but sent a letter thanking ADAMS leadership.
“The thing I’ve learned from ADAMS is that the Islam faith is a faith of peace, and sharing, and giving,” Murphy said.
“As-salamu alaykum,” Comstock wrote, using a traditional Arabic greeting among Muslims meaning “peace be upon you.”
The ADAMS Center honored the following people and organizations with plaques:
Kim Comrie, Assistant Principal, Rolling Ridge Elementary School
Eric Treene, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Michael Rolince, FBI (Retired)
Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office
Leesburg Police Department
Loudoun County Department of Fire, Rescue & Emergency Management
Ashburn Fire & Rescue Department
Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad
Sterling Volunteer Fire Company
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia
Herndon Police Department
Fairfax County Police Department
Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office
Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department
Prince William County Police Department
FBI Washington Field Office