Faith leaders join forces to ‘speak up against hate’

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Groups tracking hate speech and hate crimes say they’re both on the rise, and on Monday night a unique discussion was held at a Northeast Portland church to help tackle the trend.

Three women from 3 different religious backgrounds held the event at Bridgeport United Church of Christ.

“Hate has gone global, hate has gone viral,” Soraya Deen, founder of the Muslim Women Speakers Movement, told KOIN 6 News. “It’s never too late for us to speak up against hate.”

Deen spoke alongside the church’s pastor, Rev. Tara Wilkins, and Rabbi Ariel Stone, who leads worship in the same building. Together, they shared a message of love.

“Peace is our way forward in all things,” Wilkins said. “In the climate of all the rhetoric around Muslims and refugees and immigrants in general, it gives way to a culture of xenophobia. Love and community matter more than those things.”

All 3 women share the belief that voices often unheard can lead to change.

“We’re part of a glorious diversity and every one of those voices is going to tell us something we need to hear if we’re going to find our way forward,” Stone said.

In Oregon, there have been hateful messages left on school campuses, swastika graffiti found on businesses and homes, and other crimes targeting LGBTQ people.

Each of the 3 women said, while the current climate is disturbing, it can change.

“We have to be peaceful first,” Deen said. “Then I think we can tackle every problem, every challenge that comes our way.”

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