Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, July 23, 2017

Religious groups march for unity

Religious groups march for unity
UNIFIED - Hundreds of people gather from all walks of life to promote religious tolerance. The walk promoted interfaith dialogue to help resolve problems such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders spoke at the

Hundreds of people from different religions walked together along Massachusetts Avenue Sunday afternoon to symbolize unity among the communities of Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs in D.C.

The Unity Walk, in its third year, united people as Sept. 11 approached. Speakers at the event, including Akbar Ahmed, scholar of Islam and a professor at AU, Rabbi Bruce Lustig of the Washington Hebrew Congregation and the Rev. Samuel Lloyd, dean of the National Cathedral, encouraged interfaith dialogue and praised the walk for symbolizing unity in a post-Sept. 11 world where religion has become a reason for fear.

"One of the spin-offs of this event is that we are able to demonstrate from the capital an idea of a caring, a passionate and a deeply spiritual nation," Ahmed said. "We are able to reach out to the world in our understanding."

People began the walk at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, passing by the National Cathedral and the National Gurdwara, or Sikh temple. They stopped for a break at the Islamic Center and ended the walk at the Gandhi Memorial Park.

Sara Bushman, a second-year graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Lauren Barr, a freshman in the School of International Service, volunteered at the walk.

Barr said she got involved with the walk through a friend who was the volunteer coordinator.

"I wanted to help support the belief of those involved in the walk," she said.

Barr heard about the walk from the OneVoice movement, an Israeli and Palestinian group that promotes peace. Students attended the event from several universities in the area, including the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown. International students from Israel who are members of OneVoice also attended.

"OneVoice is the amplified voice of the moderate citizens both on the Palestinian and the Israeli side," said Yaniv Rivlin, one of the representatives of the organization from Hebrew University. "We know the majority of the people want to end the conflict, and we would like to reach out to all communities and societies."

There were also young Muslims at the event, including members of the Muslim Public Service Network, a housing network and organization for students, particularly undergraduate Muslim students.

Sarah Kalimullah, an eighth-grade teacher of Pakistani descent who lives in housing provided by the Muslim Public Service Network, wanted to set an example for her students.

"As an eighth-grade teacher, I try to teach my students the best values I can," she said. "By coming here, I am in a way setting an example for my students. I am in a way letting them know what they should do, too"