Dozens of local residents and community leaders gathered on Pelham Parkway last week to remember those who died in the recent Paris terrorist attacks.
On January 7, terrorists attacked the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12. The suspects and affiliates later took hostages in a printing plant and a Jewish grocery store, where an additional four were killed.
Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj organized the interfaith vigil on Friday, January 19 to honor the victims.
“We are gathered here today to mourn and pray for peace,” said Gjonaj.
After the attacks, three million Parisians and supporters responded by peacefully assembling in the streets, said Rabbi Shmuel Zuckerman of the Young Israel on Pelham Parkway.
“We want to echo that today,” he said at the vigil.
Father Salvatore DeStefano of St. Clare’s of Assisi extended condolences on behalf of the neighborhood’s Catholic community, and thanked the community for coming together.
“Times of tragedy bring unity,” said Fr. DeStefano.
Although the terrorists called themselves Muslim, their values are not those of the true religion, said Imam Hamud Al-Silwil of the Bronx Muslim Center.
“There is no room for violence anywhere,” said Al-Silwil. “We reject it completely.”
“The Muslim community I know is a generous community,” said Gjonaj. “They are our neighbors and friends, and they help make this neighborhood a better place.”
Local teens Sana Naeem and Hira Choudhry attended the vigil with signs that called for peace, and said they wanted to provide a positive representation of their religion.
“People need to understand that Islam is literally a religion of peace,” said Choudhry.
Edith Blitzer of the Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association, said the news of the attacks on the Jewish community and others in Paris was devastating.
“These are all human beings, we have the same blood,” said Blitzer.
In trying times, it’s important for members of the community to stand as one, she said.
Another member of the PPNA, Steven Glosser, agreed.
“It’s good for the community—all races, religions and creeds—to come together.”