‘An attack on equality and justice’
A vigil to honour 50 people killed in a terrorist attack on mosques in New Zealand was held last night.
Muhammad Khan, a Muslim iman, said the attack “was not only an attack on the Muslim community at Christchurch, but an attack on humanity, an attack on freedom, an attack on equality and justice”.
He added: “And make no mistake, such terrorism has no ethnicity, nationality, colour or religion, but the real identity of terrorism is arrogance, ignorance of truth, greed, corruption, and racism.”
Mr Khan also appealed for tolerance, respect and understanding of other faiths and cultures.
New Zealanders resident in Bermuda organised the event at Hamilton's Victoria Park to honour the innocents, including young children, murdered by a white supremacist gunman as they prayed at two mosques in Christchurch, in the South Island of the country, last Friday.
The event attracted people of different faiths who wanted to show their solidarity with the battle against bigotry and mourn the victims of the shootings.
The Right Reverend Wesley Spiewak, the Catholic Bishop of Hamilton was among those who paid their respects. Bishop Spiewak said there was a need for tolerance and respect, despite differences in colour and beliefs.
He added: “We should be able to look beyond our beliefs, convictions, opinions. We are all humans. We are all people.”
Bishop Spiewak said: “It is so important for us to stand side by side with one another and to not look at the differences more than the similarities and show support when support is needed.”
He added people should show support for each other, not only in times of crisis, but as believers in God; they should exercise humanity.
Bishop Spiewak said: “Our children, our new generation should play together, should spend time together. This is going to help us to overcome any kind of hatred, prejudice and intolerance and racism.”
Hillary Carr, one of the organisers of the vigil said the New Zealand community in Bermuda had been devastated by the attack. Ms Carr said: “We are so shocked and quite overcome with grief and helplessness from what had happened in a place of worship.”
“I thought this was a good time to bring the New Zealand community together and reach out to the Muslim community.
Tracey Sharrieff, who is a Muslim, said: “We are all saddened by the situation. It was very difficult holding back the tears. It's a very sad situation,”
Faiza Punja, also Muslim, added: “We are happy the way the Government of New Zealand has treated the Muslims.
“This is the first government that you see really give their full support when things like this happen.”
Bermuda Police Superintendent Na'imah Astwood, who is also Muslim, said she was pleased to see Muslims and non-Muslims together to show their respect and abhorrence for the white supremacist beliefs said to be behind the attacks.
She said the police Community Action Team also attended the event to show the community that “we are one”.
Ms Astwood added: “Anything that happens to anyone in whatever part of the world, it affects all of us.”
John Rankin, the Governor, said: “This was a despicable terrorist attack We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and the Muslim community in New Zealand and in Bermuda.”
Wayne Caines, the national security minister, added: “We have to love each other; we have to be more tolerant of each other. This is how we beat bigotry. This is how we beat intolerance.”
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