Gov. Pat Quinn joined Illinois Muslims celebrating the end of the month-long Ramadan holiday Sunday in a ceremony in suburban Bridgeview.
The governor joined roughly 15,000 Muslim Illinoisans in prayer at Toyota Park Sunday morning, and spoke out against recent attacks against Islamic institutions in the area, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
He also commemorated the post-Ramadan holiday Eid by signing a religious tolerance bill that requires universities to provide alternate assignments to students who miss work or exams to observe holidays, ABC Chicago reports.
Illinois has more than 400,000 practicing Muslims, and during the event Sunday, Quinn vowed to "vigorously protect" their right to practice their religion freely, CBS Chicago reports. He also said he honors their commitment to their faith.
Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) made controversial comments at a town hall meeting in Elk Grove Village asserting that radical Islam had permeated the Chicago suburbs and was a real threat.
Days later, three potential hate crimes were reported in the area: shots were fired at a Morton Grove mosque, a bottle bomb was found at an Islamic school in Lombard, and headstones in an Evergreen Park cemetery were defaced with anti-Muslim graffiti.
Chicago Islamic groups said Walsh's statements made them feel targeted, and expressed a heightened concern for their safety after these and other incidents reported in the Midwest.
"When elected officials, trusted by many, indicate that the enemy could be any Muslim living in your neighborhood, it gives rise to xenophobic vigilantism where fearful citizens target other Americans for simply looking different," Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago, said in a statement.
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