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Rhode Island Islamic community embraces Mayor Elorza’s kindness initiative



During his second inaugural address in January, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza announced a “kindness initiative.”

“We are all connected, says the African concept of Ubuntu, and when we recognize our common humanity, we’re more likely to live by the Golden Rule and treat others as we would want to be treated,” said Elorza. “The initiative will begin by creating a kindness work group that will brainstorm ways that we can spread kindness throughout our city so that we lead our lives with more compassion and love for one another. In the next four years, I pledge to not only engage around budgets, infrastructure, development, education, and all those things that mayors talk about, but to also use this awesome platform that is being Providence’s mayor, to engage in the meaningful work that it takes to be a kinder, more compassionate city. I ask you all to join us in this work.”

That call to action resonated with the Muslim Community in Providence, who opened Masjid Al Kareem, the Islamic Center of Rhode Island to the public to hear from speakers representing various faiths, as well as United States Senator Jack Reed (Democrat, Rhode Island) and United States Representative David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island). After the various addresses to the audience, the public was invited to partake of some delicious middle eastern food.

The event was titled, “Know Your Muslim Neighbor.”

The event was in the shadow of the recent violence, when a white nationalist gunman killed 50 people and wounded 50 at a mosque and Islamic center in New Zealand, but this event was planned long before the tragedy.

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“I appreciate the Muslim community taking the lead on our kindness initiative,” said Mayor Elorza after the ceremony. “It was hatched with them at the table, and the idea is very simple. You know there’s a void in people’s live right now. You look at loneliness, anxiety, anger depression and suicide – they’re all on the rise, which tells us that there’s a void in people’s lives. That void is going to be filled, either by anger and hate, or by kindness and compassion…

“… We want Providence to be known as the City of Kindness.”

Blow is all the video from the event:

Nasser Zawia emceed the proceedings:

A reading from the Quran:

Nasser Zawia:

Iman Abdul-Latif Sackor of Masjid al-Kareem:

Amy Romero, Assistant United States Attorney, attending on behalf of United States Attorney General Aaron Weisman.

Mayor Elorza:

Jack Reed:

David Cicilline:

Nasser Zawia:

Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island:

David Leach, representing the community from Temple Emmanuel:

Meredith Sinel from the Jewish Community Day School:

Reverend Gretchen Weis of the Unitarian Church of North Attleboro:

Robia Hos:

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.