Speech given at the January 21, 2017 Olympia Women’s March by Heather Ahmed

Good morning and peace be with you!

It is with great honor that I am speaking here today and I thank you. My goal is always to achieve a closer and unified bond between people. As a Muslim, I believe that we are all from One God and as such we can come together with understanding and strength. We may have differences in who we think God is or even is not, but we are all one.

When we seek understanding, then we can acknowledge and respect another person’s perspective. Even if we do not understand everything about their point of view, if we maintain a level where we seek out understanding, we will be more likely to accept each other. The more we learn about others, the more we find we are the same. We each hold one piece to a puzzle. It’s when we put our pieces together that we will see the whole picture. We need to assemble those pieces with LOVE.

We live in a global world. Our community is a mix of many race, religion, age, abilities, and more. We all have a talent to contribute to our community. Uniting our talents makes us stronger and creates peace in our community. Peace in our community leads to peace in our nation; Peace in our nation leads to peace among nations. With respect for others, you can be fully YOU while, at the same time, allowing and enjoying someone else to be fully THEM. We can sit at the table of humanity and embrace each other’s similarities and differences. Through dialogue we can sow the seeds of love.

Finally, why should we have understanding? Because we are the United States of America!

The First constitutional amendment provides for Freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition. It protects the rights of each person to choose and practice their own religion or to choose no religion. As an American, I want to exercise my right to practice my religion. Additionally, as an American, I have the responsibility to allow others to practice theirs. John F. Kennedy said, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”

America is where we have a multitude of perspectives coming together in one place. We are the ones who have to implement the words of the constitution. We are an example for the world on how to live in peace by embracing our diversity. We are the light. We are the ones to show the world how to love because we are a community, in one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Heather Ahmed is a member of the Islamic Center of Olympia (Masjid Al-Nur) which is a member faith community of Interfaith Works.