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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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What it feels like at Salam Arabic Lutheran Church

A police officer has been stationed outside the church building of Salam Arabic Lutheran Church in response to threats made to the pastor, congregation and children.

Parents are afraid to send their children to pre-school, after-school and youth group programs. The week after the attacks, 15 children were missing from Sunday school, which usually serves 35-40 children. Some parents not only keep their children home — the parents themselves are afraid to go to work.

Long before the attacks, the church pastor, Khader El-Yateem, organized the Brooklyn Unity Task Force, a group the includes many faiths. In addition to a Wednesday neighborhood candlelight service, thr group agreed to acknowledge the need for it to state as an organization that it condemned the terrorist attacks, adding that the Unity Task Force hoped others would follow its example of promoting compassion and understanding for all races, creeds, and religions.

But sometimes understanding seems a dream: When Pastor El-Yateem decided to cancel English classes two days after the attacks, he hastily wrote a message on a poster in Arabic only. Soon after, a crowd gathered outside assuming the poster contained anti-American sentiment or worse.


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