On Friday, Feb 3, The Islamic Center of Maine held a community event in which hundreds gathered to write letters to Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Angus King and Rep. Bruce Poliquin. The leaders of The Islamic Center of Maine told attendants to “write from the heart.” Over 170 people attended the letter writing workshop according to the event’s Facebook page.
Dina Yacoubagha is the head of the Islamic Center of Maine’s educational committee and a volunteer at Faith Linking in Action. Yacoubagha expressed her pride in being an American citizen and hopes that other immigrants will continue to be able to enjoy the feeling. She says the executive order is un-American and affects hard working people who make a positive impact on the community. Yacoubagha came from Syria 20 years ago. She describes Orono as a supportive community.
Those who attended expressed their displeasure with Donald Trump’s executive action in his first two weeks in office. The topic of most of the letters was the executive order restricting travel. The order temporarily suspends travel into the U.S. from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The order also indefinitely suspends Syrian refugees. The order is currently in a legal grey area after a Washington State Federal judge ruled it invalid.
Patrick Malloy, a history student at UMaine, believed that Trump’s move puts the United States in more danger than it protects us from. “They need to know how many people are not ok with an executive order that will destroy many innocent lives and play right into isis’ hands…We’re validating ISIS’ narrative that the west is cruel and oppressive.”
Kelly Berglund was impressed by the turn out, because the event was organized on such short notice. She thinks the event is important for “shedding light on the religion itself…and showing people that were all in this together…I hope it will show there are people who don’t support Trumps policies and that Maine will remain a state that’s welcoming,” she said.
Catherine Strauch, a teacher in the area, attended the workshop to “stand up against Islamophobia”. She said the turnout of people was reaffirming after seeing the current division in our country over the executive order.
Many of those who helped set up the letter writing workshop said their experience in Maine has been one of support and community. As Marwa Elkelani, another attendee, explained, “look around, this is the Islamic Center of Maine experience…we see different faiths coming together.”
The Islamic Center of Maine holds Jumaa prayer services on Fridays at 12:30pm and Halaqa at 7:30pm on Fridays. The Mosque also holds Sunday school for children of all ages from 11 am to 12:15 am. The Sunday school teachers discuss Arabic, Islamic studies and the Quran.