The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County on Friday led a “Ring of Solidarity” to show support for local Muslims at the Walnut Creek Islamic Center, or Dar Ulislam.
The event was designed to show support for a community that many people feel is under attack: Hate crimes are accelerating, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration has blocked refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.
"Some folks in our interfaith community are saying this is the most stressful and most afraid that they've been as a Muslim in America in the last three decades," said Rev. Will McGarvey of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County. "They belong. They're our neighbors. We love them. And we don't agree with our own government targeting them ostensibly right now to be able to use as a basis for going to war in Iran."
Avi Rose, the executive director of the Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay, agreed.
"We have been responding to the executive order all week," Rose said, deeming Trump's moves "anti-refugee" and "anti-Muslim."
"We’ve been alarmed, we’ve been horrified," he stressed.
The order has caused fear among many immigrants, even from countries not on those lists, and prompted an unknown number of travelers to get questioned for hours at airports across the country.
"I have family that are green card holders and I have concerns about their futures will be," said Yasser Moten of Walnut Creek. "To me, it's not only a Muslim issue. It's a human rights issue."
To show support and togetherness, people will be joining hands and forming a human circle around the mosque. The ring of solidarity will continue during prayer time for people of the Muslim faith, called the Juma’ah, and all "peaceful people" have been invited to attend.
Members of many faiths were expected to attend. Several Jewish groups have been present at the protests and rallies; many fear that bigotry will prevail if they don't speak out against discrimination.
Rev. Carolyn Wilkins said that Friday's circle of unity was the community's way of "letting them know that we understand."
But standing up for humanity is what all religious leaders should do, McGarvey said.
"We agree with treating all of our citizens and all of our neighbors, whether they're documented or not, as human beings in need of love and community," he said. "This is what we're about. This is what interfaith councils do. We stand up for the rights of religious minorities, especially when they're being targeted."
NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.