After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, leaders in New Brunswick, N.J., had an immediate concern: protecting their Muslim neighbors.
The city, a university and healthcare industry hub of 50,000, is on the commuter rail run into New York City, 30 miles away, and Middlesex County, its home, mourned 70 dead residents following 9/11.
Yet when an Episcopal priest warned the local police chief that hotheads might retaliate by attacking an Islamic society property, the chief replied that he had already sent officers to protect against any violence. Up against an environment of fear and grief, when some sought vigilante vengeance, New Brunswick instead rallied to protect its Muslim neighbors....
But [a] book includes the case of the Islamic School of Seattle, whose non-Muslim neighbors patrolled the sidewalks in case vandals attacked the school, and similar examples in other cities.
Elsewhere, when word spread on the Internet that Muslim women in traditional head scarves feared for their safety when they went shopping, neighbors offered to shop for them, according to Niehbuhr. In another example, employers encouraged Islamic employees to report harassment, promising to clamp down on it.
Indeed, interfaith cooperation preceded 9/11. By one estimate, 1,000 interfaith groups have formed since the mid-90s, spurred by growing religious diversity wrought in the country by immigrants from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, said Niebuhr.[Link]
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