Around 100 people came together for a peace vigil held at St. John's Lutheran Church Wednesday night in the wake of violence in Orlando early Sunday morning.
With hymns playing softly in the background and a row of candles on an altar, Bloomington residents of many faiths joined in silent prayer for the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history. Among those who came were several representatives of the local Muslim communities. Imam Abu-Emad Al-Talla from Masjid Ibrahim of Bloomington said he is deeply disturbed by the actions of the shooter.
"Islam is against all of these things and this man who did that is not representing Islam. Our thoughts and feelings are supporting everybody here," said Al-Talla.
Al-Talla said the entire Muslim community of Bloomington-Normal joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence and terror.
"In this holy month of Ramadan, a month of compassion, worship, generosity, and mercy, we pray to God that He hasten the day when all people, regardless of their faith, race, or beliefs, will live together in understanding, harmony, and peace," said Al-Talla.
Prairie Pride Coalition Board President David Bentlin said it means so much to the LGBT community to see the Muslim community join in the mourning.
"They are feeling heartache as well for what has happened. We are so grateful that they are in solidarity and that they stand with us in hoping this never happens again," said Bentlin.
Bentlin said it is always hard to find a silver lining in anything like this.
"What we do find are newfound allies, allies that were always there that we weren't aware of. If anything can come of this, I hope it can be a newfound solidarity with more and more people," said Bentlin.
Bentlin says hopefully this incident will galvanize supporters to redouble their efforts to bring about fairness, equality, and justice for all minority groups.