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Words of love and comfort on sidewalk reassures hope in American Muslims

April Benson-Scearce was, like so many others, upset by Donald Trump’s presidential win, and wondered what it would mean for people of other races and religions in the US. Moreover, she worried what kind of message his election sent to the Muslims, a community against which he has repeatedly incited fear and hatred. So, to do her part in helping out her fellow countrymen, the mother from East Nashville, Tennessee decided to send them a message of her own.

This past week, Benson-Scearce and her three-year-old son Hudson headed out to a nearby Islamic Centre, with a bag of chalk in tow. The two of them then proceeded to draw and write on the sidewalk outside the centre, leaving cheery images and messages of hope for those passing by. A Christian herself, Benseon-Scearce said she wanted to let the local Muslims know that, despite Trump’s hate-filled anti-Islam campaign, the Nashville community still stood by them. “To my Muslim friends and community members: I stand with you now, and if things do get worse, I will stand with you then too,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

Even as she worked, Benson-Scearce said at least 30 passers-by stopped to help and contribute their own messages of comfort outside the mosque. “It was really kind of healing for me,” she told The Tennessean. Eventually, the sidewalk was filled with drawings of flowers, hearts, and writings to the Muslim community. “We see you and we want you here,” one message read, while another said “We love you.” The act has touched the hearts of resident Muslims, especially the Islamic Centre’s President Rashed Fakhruddin. “It was a heartwarming message for all of us,” he said. “I think after all that we’ve heard, these statements of misogyny and xenophobia, racism, bigotry, this is just a breath of fresh air for us.”

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