Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 News Reporter
Members of the Muslim community gathered in downtown Dallas tonight to condemn the violence over seas and to remember Ambassador Chris Stevens and his staff killed in Libya
Following a week of protests and violence overseas this week, members of the local Muslim community gathered in downtown Dallas to condemn that violence and to remember the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
The vigil was held in the Belo Gardens across from the U.S. Federal Courthouse. Several representatives from the Muslim community talked about what happened over the last week and how the violence misrepresents Islam and Muslims every where.
They also held a moment of silence for the four diplomats killed in Benghazi, Libya on Tuesday.
More than 50 members of the local Muslim community, Libyan, Syrian and Egyptian Americans held flags, candles and signs. Organizers called it a simple gesture to stand in solidarity against the violence and to honor slain U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
"We want to honor the ambassador and his colleagues," said Samir Mavrakis. "The ambassador was a very good friend of Libya, a friend of Benghazi."
Mavrakis is a Benghazi native who has returned home twice since the fall of Gadaffi last year. He says the loss of the ambassador will be a diversion for Libya in the coming weeks and months but one the nation will get over. But on Saturday night, he, like many others in attendance, hoped images of peaceful demonstrations will out shine the senseless violence seen in more than a dozen countries over the last week.
"We wanted to make sure our fellow citizens in the United States understand that this not a message of Islam by any means, Islam is not about violence," Mavrakis said.
Those in the group did not wish to give any credit to the film that allegedly sparked some of the violence seen on television in recent weeks. But they did say it was important to distinguish themselves from the extremists who are conducting that violence. They want to show that most Muslims are peaceful and, most importantly, they wanted to remember the innocent victims and to think about their families.
"We have to come out and show that we are appalled," said Ranya Sabbagh, a Syrian-American. "We have to come out and give our condolences to the families of those innocent victims."
Sabbagh says many in the Middle Eastern world do not understand the Western world's freedoms of speech. They think the U.S. government approved the film and that's why some extremists are acting violently.
The vigil was held in coordination with other vigils in cities across the country. It was originally scheduled for Friday night but was delayed a day due to the threat of rain.