A week of drama that focused the world’s eyes on Gainesville because of a preacher’s plan to burn the Quran ended Saturday night with charity, fellowship and a candlelight memorial to those who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
A Day of Peace and Unity sponsored by the Gainesville Muslim Initiative at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza downtown drew religious leaders of many denominations who thanked Alachua County for its tolerance and compassion, and honored the many freedoms in America.
As it has on Saturday for the past three years, the Muslim organization Project Downtown served meals on the plaza to the homeless and underprivileged.
But added activities to mark the 9/11 anniversary included a candlelight vigil, speeches by religious and community leaders, a blood drive, food and book drives and other events.
About 300 people gathered on Northwest 53rd Street to march three-fourths of a mile in counter-protest to the center’s plan, albeit canceled, to burn the Quran.