Holding candles and bowing their heads, a crowd of people joined together on the Square in Denton on Thursday night for an interfaith vigil featuring local religious leaders, each taking a turn leading attendees in prayers.
“We pray this night for refugees, for those in this country and elsewhere. We pray for families separated from loved ones. We pray for the countries from which they come, for Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Iraq and elsewhere, and pray that those countries might know justice, peace and prosperity,” said pastor Craig Hunter of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Denton.
Members of the activist group Indivisible Denton organized the event in response to President Trump’s second attempt to implement travel restrictions on people from Muslim-majority countries by executive order.
A federal judge has blocked the order, but event planner and Indivisible Denton member Samantha Hobson said the vigil was planned for the same day the ban was to go into effect.
“This shows support to everyone in our community,” Hobson said. “America is welcoming and [immigrants] are allowed to be here.
“I just want to give people hope that there are people who sympathize with them and that we do care about them.”
Imam Mohamed Fouad and other members of the Islamic Society of Denton performed Muslim prayers before Fouad addressed the crowd.
“I would like to clarify that every Muslim who pray five times a day, they repeat the word 'peace' for more than 35 times a day,” Fouad said. “It is a strong message from all Muslims to live in peace, mercy and blessing of God.
“We need to improve our behavior as human to bring the best and happiness to all, regardless of color, regardless of gender, regardless of nationality. We have to love each other.”
Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis teaches Jewish and Israel Studies at the University of North Texas. He said his faith commanded him to attend the vigil.
“In the book of Deuteronomy, every year we are commanded to go to the ancient temple and say to the priest, ‘My ancestor was a wandering Aramean’ to remind ourselves that we are the people who are wanderers, and that we should have empathy for the wanderers, for the immigrants, for the refugees, for the deported, for all those people who find themselves without a home,” Dennis said.
DANIEL BURGESS can be reached at 940-566-6875.