We stand together in the face of acts of terrorism.
People of St Chrysostom’s walked after Sunday Mass to Manchester Central Mosque and joined a vigil at the mosque in solidarity with our Muslim friends mourning the horrific massacre in Christchurch New Zealand. Members of the local community joined us, as well as local dignitaries and women and men taking a stand against racism.
We were greeted very warmly and Fr Ian and Mtr Kate were shown to seats at the front of the mosque.
Among the speeches given local Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar – who convened the gathering – spoke of the need for a stand, individually and collectively, against all kinds of hatred – islamophobia, homophobia, religious hatred, racism.
In welcoming people to the mosque the President of the Manchester Council of Mosques spoke of the support and encouragement Muslim people had received from people of good will, and of the need to build on this together for the good of our world.
Afzhal Khan M.P. drew our attention to the awful irony of the place of the killings being ‘Christchurch’ – a place named after Christ – the prince of peace. He spoke of the need for political action, not least in regulating what images are broadcast.
Fr Ian spoke of the need for prayer and mutual encouragement to build up peace, and in the longer term for people of world faiths and all of good will to work together to build up and strengthen our shared values of respect and our shared humanity.
Asma Akbar helped us to understand the importance of the mosque, as more than simply a place of worship, in Islam. She has kindly agreed that her words can be posted on our church blog – here.
Other speakers include representatives of the police and anti-racism workers, and, movingly, a young man whose relative had been murdered at Christchurch. We were reminded that in times of austerity and political unrest fascist and terrorist groups can step forward – we were encouraged to be vigilant.
All added special and enriching words to a very special gathering, which showed a common determination to stand together in the face of the evil of terrorism. The gathering concluded with a moving prayer for God’s blessing on all humanity, said in English and Arabic by one of the Imams of the mosque.
It is our prayer at St Chrysostom’s that people of whatever faith may worship and gather in safety and in peace, and that by standing together in the face of terrorism we will strengthen one another in a common resolve to build up peace, respect and understanding in our troubled world.