Crime brings community together
With a total population of 50,000 people total in Harrisonburg, Virginia, there are
not many Muslims. The total population number drops to 25,000 when students from local
universities go home for the summer. The Islamic Center of the Shenandoah Valley
offers the Muslim population a place to practice their religion with other Muslims
in the area. This is the only Mosque in Harrisonburg.
This place of peace became a place of sadness on September 13, 2012. The mosque
fell victim to vandals that covered the building with spray paint. The vandalism
included several racial slurs and offensive references against Muslims. The mosque
has been in existence since 1998, and local director Eshan Ahmed said, “ Nothing
like this has ever happened to us before, even after 9/11.” The vandalism caught
the attention of the community around the mosque, and We Are All Harrisonburg.
We are all Harrisonburg decided to schedule an event at the mosque three days
later. This event was made public to anyone who wanted to attend, and had a purpose
to turn the hateful crime into an opportunity to unite the community. Within a day
of the event being scheduled, over 500 people committed to attend the event. The
event included people of all faiths, races, and ages.
The Washington Post was one of many other media outlets that were in attendance at
the event. The event had a number of speakers from different background that shared
a few positive words to those in attendance. Members of the mosque expressed
gratitude for those in attendance. The event showed that the vandalism was an
isolated incident, and that not all people in Harrisonburg were full of hate like
the criminals that committed such a horrible crime.
When I first heard this story it made me grateful that I lived in a city that had a
group of caring, open-minded people. It frustrated me to learn that within the same
population could be the criminal that committed this crime. Events like this are
needed to break down stereotypes, and single stories. Not just stereotypes about
the muslim community, but also stereotypes about people that are not apart of the