Bonded By Tragedy, Men of Different Faiths Call For Unity

Side by side, Dr. Rev. Michael W. Waters and Imam Omar Suleiman have not had much time to reflect on the events of the last two weeks.

There is too much work to do.

"We are really trying to understand how such a beautiful night could end up turning tragic so quickly," Waters said.

Each came to downtown Dallas the night of July 7 to walk for peace, then found themselves running from hate. When gunfire began targeting Dallas police officers, the pair found themselves running together. As the gunshots rang out, they ran to the Omni Hotel.

"I ended up just emptying my wallet with one man and said, 'I'll give you everything I have just get me to my church,'" said Waters.

The pair piled into a stranger's vehicle with several other people and made their way back to Waters' church where the Christian and Muslim prayed together.

"It was a very emotional night for us both and as I was walking out of the church that night, I gave Michael a big hug," said Suleiman. "I said, 'If we weren't brothers before this, we are now. We're family now.'"

The two first met after the Charleston church shooting and have come to the other's side over the past year.

Waters and his congregation have supported the Muslim community during anti-muslim rallies outside North Texas mosques and Suleiman has supported calls for justice in Waters' South Dallas neighborhood.

"When his community suffers, my community suffers," said Waters. "When we experience pain, his community experiences pain. At the end of the day we are one human family, one world community. Far be it for us to remain silent when someone else is suffering."

"When we grieve, we grieve similarly and when we hope, we hope similarly," said Suleiman. "Humanizing one another is at the heart of solving every problem we have."

Bonded by tragedy, they hope their friendship can be a model for unity.

"Our friendship, our brotherhood is a sign of what is possible and what we should desire to see in our nation," Waters said.

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