Letter to the Post-Standard

People of Faith Prayed for Dr. Rafil Dhafir and Witnessed his Trial

For fourteen weeks of trial and one week of summation, religious leaders, people of faith, and justice-seekers gathered by ones, twos, or more at the Federal Building plaza to pray for Dr. Rafil Dhafir and the trial proceedings, as well as for our nation and the world. United Methodists, Roman Catholics, United Presbyterians, Muslims, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ, Quakers, and Jews were variously represented as prayers, readings, and songs expressed yearnings for justice and peace. Dr. Dhafir has been a citizen of the U.S. for approximately thirty years.

Some of those at the Federal Building plaza held posters of support for Dr. Dhafir. Others chose simply to pray for or to be present at the trial, some as “court-watchers”. Many of these justice-seekers and faith leaders had not known one another before, but came together seeking fairness and open-mindedness from the justice system.

As one of those who became a “court-watcher” throughout the trial, I witnessed the unfolding account of Dr. Rafil Dhafir’s generosity and leadership in getting food and clothing to children and families in Iraq. He openly raised funds, apparently trusting that “helping the needy” in a country that had been ravaged by the reign of Saddam Hussein and by the sanctions, would not be met with disapproval by his own U.S. government.

Dr. Dhafir also helped with the building of mosques and the sending of Korans, by way of funds raised in the Gulf States. Apparently he realized, as do many people of faith, that at times of crisis people need spiritual nurture as well as physical nurture. I thought of Dr. Dhafir on Sunday as I sat in my own place of worship and heard the reading of the words of Jesus (Matt. 4:4a) as he quoted the Hebrew Scriptures (Deut. 8:3b), “One does not live by bread alone . . .” “Yes,” I thought, “Dr. Dhafir knew that, too.” I’m glad that I was among the pray-ers and court-watchers at his trial. I will continue to pray for Dr. Dhafir and to nurture the friendships this trial has brought.

Linda E. Bergh
Syracuse, NY