Christians and Muslims unite for September 11 memorial

Cathcart Old Parish Church.

Christians and Muslims are attending a memorial service in Glasgow this Sunday to mark the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Around 300 people are expected to gather at Cathcart Old Parish Church to remember the 2,996 people who died in multiple attacks in New York City, near Washington DC and on board a plane that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

The service will be led by Cathcart Old minister Rev Neil Galbraith who founded an aid charity called Glasgow the Caring City which sent a disaster relief team to New York in the days after the worst terrorist attack on US soil.

Representatives of the Scottish Ahlul Bayat Society, a faith group which works to meet the needs of the Shia Muslim community, will lay a wreath of remembrance, read from the Quran and light one of 15 candles.

Worldwide impact

It will be the first time that a Muslim group will play a formal part in a September 11 memorial service at the church.

Mr Galbraith, whose church will be flying the New York police and fire department flags, said: “It is important to mark the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks because the worldwide consequences of that day have been immense.

“It is significant that the Scottish Ahlul Bayat Society are taking an active part in the service as equal partners.

“Their attendance sends out the message that, as a community, we are all in this together.”

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Ruaraidh Nicolson QPM will lay the first wreath and confirm once more the close bond between his colleagues, the New York City Police Department and Glasgow the Caring City.

Local MSPs Linda Fabiani and James Dornan are also expected to attend the service along with representatives of Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Fire and Rescue service and other public agencies.

Friendship thicker than blood

Mr Galbraith said the congregation of Cathcart Old threw open its doors to people directly affected by 911 in the years after the tragedy.

He revealed that around 70 American families have been flown over to Glasgow for “therapy” holidays by the charity he founded to help them recover.

The minister, whose church has within it a piece of marble and part of a girder from the Twin Towers destroyed by two planes in New York, said “time heals and friendship is thicker than blood”.

Mr Galbraith said: “There will never be another memorial service like this because a lot of the people who were involved in 911 are getting a lot older and might not be here for the 20th anniversary.

“With the passing of age, we must pass on to the young folks a modern Scotland, a more caring Scotland which has a respect for each other’s faiths and is diverse enough to build bonds which can never be broken.

“And what better time to do it, than on the anniversary of the day when the world changed and almost imploded except for the fact that people of faith, humanity and compassion worked even harder and loved even stronger to ensure it would never happen.

“There is a bit of New York in all of us.

“That no matter what happens, with faith we can be stronger and united, you can love again.”