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Albany Muslims Call For Peace After Orlando Shooting

The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history has sent shockwaves around the world and throughout our region. Capital Region Muslims and public officials are jointly calling for peace after Orlando.

"Although it's still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate."  With those words, President Barack Obama addressed the nation on news that about 50 are dead and 53 hospitalized in the wake of the massacre at Orlando gay nightclub Pulse. The killings have stunned the gay community and the general public. 11th ward Albany city councilman Judd Krasher spoke late Sunday night.  "It is important that we, as a community, as a city, stand in solidarity with Orlando and all of the affected communities impacted by this act of hate."

Capital Region Muslims gathered to say they strongly condemn the attack. Dr. Shamshad Ahmad, president of the Masjid As-Salam mosque in Albany, joined Krasher and other officials outside the Central Avenue house of worship, where he said the entire Muslim community is suffering.   "If someone carrying a Muslim name carries this kind of criminal activity, then in a way, the whole Muslim community is to be considered suspicious. Therefore we feel more silent, more depressed, with a situation with a criminal act committed by an individual who calls himself belonging to Muslim community."

Those gathered say attempts to use the Orlando tragedy as a means to perpetuate racism and xenophobia against the Muslim community will not be tolerated. Krasher believes in Albany; he calls the city "a place that is safe for everyone."    "...including the LGBT community, including our Muslim brothers and sisters, a place that shares so much diversity."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Barbara Smith

Barbara Smith, a local activist and WAMC contributor, was tapped by Mayor Kathy Sheehan to speak at the Albany event.   "We need to work with each other to change not just laws and not just practices. We need to change culture, and that's a big job."

Sixth ward council member and president pro tem of the Albany Common Council Richard Conti says at a time like this… "… we're all gay and lesbian, we're all Muslim."    Conti condemns Islamophobia, homophobia and racism, saying none are tolerable in modern society.  "It's important to remember the victims and the family and the friends and the community that have been impacted, but also again, the importance of coming together."

Moments of silence and candlelight vigils are scheduled across the Northeast, including a 5:30 vigil tonight at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center in Kingston.

At 6, LGBTQA Vermonters will be gathering in Burlington at the First Unitarian Universalist Society on Pearl Street, then marching down Church Street to City Hall Park.  At the same time, the Pride Center of the Capital Region will be holding a vigil at West Capitol Park. A 6 o'clock vigil is to be held on the steps of Schenectady City Hall. Another is in Pittsfield - 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  at Park Square.

A national list of events is available here. 

Kim Fountain, director of the Pride Center of Vermont, says on that group's website "June 12 will be forever etched in our communities' history as a day of extraordinary grief."

OneBlood, the local blood bank in Orlando, is asking for folks to wait until later this week to donate blood. O-, O+, and AB Plasma is still highly needed as is all blood donations. To find a donation center or Big Red Bus near you visit www.oneblood.org or call 1.888.9Donate.

It should be noted that prior to the Orlando shooting, an Isis affiliate released a hit list with the names of more than 8,000 people — more than 600 of them Florida residents.

The Albany office of the FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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