Chief Justice Ralph Gants’ office reached out to the Center earlier in the week and said he wanted to show his support for the community.

On Friday, after weekly prayers, he stood before hundreds of Muslims, and explained that he wanted to speak with them because he knows it’s a difficult time for Muslim Americans.

“And I am here to assure you that you do not stand alone,” he told them.

Gants stressed that both the federal and state constitution are there to protect them from discrimination and acts of violence. And he said those entrusted to defend those rights are there for them, too.

“We in our judiciary recognize our obligation to enforce those rights where they are abridged, regardless of whether it is popular to do so - sometimes knowing it will not be popular to do so,” he said. “And based on what I know about our Attorney General Maura Healey and our District Attorney Dan Conley, I am confident that they will stand with you to prosecute your cases if and when your civil rights have been violated.”

Gants quoted from the old testament: “Once we were strangers in the land of Egypt.” And he listed how throughout our history, one immigrant group after another has faced discrimination.

“So I hold firm in the hope that if we remember who we are, and where we came from, and what we once endured, if we remember that we, too once were strangers in the land of Egypt, the vast majority of Americans will stand arm and arm with Muslim Americans and together we will get past troubling times.”

Gants was interrupted by applause.

“Until that happens,” he told them, “we have our constitution and rule of law to protect us, and lawyers, prosecutors and judges prepared to apply those laws to ensure our rights.”

Yusufi Vali, the Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, said Gants’ comments were “deeply profound,” and he agreed with the Justice’s message of hope. Vali said across the nation there has been a rise in hate crimes against Muslims.

“What I can fairly confidently say here in Boston is that we do have a very different reality,” he said. “We had the mayor come here, the police commissioner come here, the Cardinal wrote an incredible letter just yesterday. And now to have the Chief Justice, the head of the judicial branch of Massachusetts come here, I think just speaks to how Boston is truly unique. We stand together, and I hope we’re modeling for the rest of the nation in these difficult times how we need to come together and continue working together.”

One of the worshipers, Mahmoud Ahmed, said his own experience in Boston has been good. But he said he feels differently when he sees coverage of Muslims on TV.

“I would imagine what would people feel when they see what’s on TV,” he said. “How much blaming is going on. And what image the media wants to give to the Muslims. It makes me feel terrible. It makes me feel sad. And it makes me lose hope.”

Ahmed said he thinks one reason his own experience has been positive is that he doesn’t wear traditional Islamic clothes.

“So I just mingle with the people,” he said. “Like, nobody knows. It doesn’t say Muslim on my forehead. But if somebody were to ask me on the street, ‘are you Muslim?’ I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying yes.”

Another worshiper, Shareda Hosein, retired last year after serving 35 years in the U.S. Army. She said things feel different recently.

“For me, the San Bernardino incident brought more fear for me, especially me as a women dressed significantly looking like a Muslim, than shortly after 9/11,” she said. “I’m more fearful now as an American Muslim than before.”

Hosein said Gants’ visit to the Center told her that Muslims have allies and protection.

“It meant a lot for him to be in this space,” she said.

You can hear more of the speech by clicking the audio link at the top of the page.