Viewpoint: Vigil for Christchurch shootings

Standing in Solidarity in Hackney Against Hate � Reflecting on Christchurch, New Zealand. Picture: C

Standing in Solidarity in Hackney Against Hate � Reflecting on Christchurch, New Zealand. Picture: CLLR IAN RATHBONE - Credit: Ian Rathbone

The shock waves are still reverberating around the world at the terrible murders that took place in Christchurch New Zealand last Friday.

As so often happens, in Hackney we got together to show we still stand united as a community in the face of such extremist threats.

“Never think you’re alone – we stand together,” as Munaf Zeena said on Friday at the vigil, Standing in Solidarity in Hackney Against Hate – Reflecting on Christchurch, New Zealand, which was held at North London Muslim Community Centre (NLMCC), Cazenove Road, organised by Munaf, co-chairman of the Muslim Jewish Forum.

Here in Hackney, we have spent years building on our relationships as different communities all living together in one place.

We don’t have all the answers, but we are making strong efforts to tackle the problems with a No Place for Hate Champion and a new interfaith forum, both the result of mayor Philip Glanville’s vision for a holistic approach to community relations.

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And in other more informal ways, we get together and celebrate our common humanity. It’s an answer to extremism.

On Friday, we stood together once again and we said no to racism and no to hatred, wherever it comes from.

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Mr Glanville emphasised: “Our response includes reassurance and support today and in the coming days.

“Beyond that it must be about more openness, more interfaith work, more kindness and more recognition of that shared humanity that others want to negate.”

Cllr Clare Potter, the speaker of Hackney, said: “We will not allow our lives together to be eroded by terrorists.”

Meg Hillier MP observed that it was good to see the children from Muslim Olive School and the Jewish Simon Marks schools getting together in one choir to sing movingly at the Holocaust Memorial Day in January.

People of all faiths, and none, spoke. Rabbi Herschel Gluck, co-chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum, said each human being is of infinite human value. God made us all the same. He said: “We died 49 times today.” We’re all human.

Imam Abdullah Rawat, imam of Musallaa an Noor mosque, Stoke Newington, said: “We open our mosques to the community, to try and bridge the gap,” and mentioned the mosque working with St Paul’s Church West Hackney to help the homeless through the winter night shelter.

“Communities can live together,” he said. “We will not fear, not hate. We will remain united and continue to visit our church and mosque.”

Rev Rosemia Brown, Anglican Dean of Hackney, gave a message that your neighbour is the one you stop to help as in the story of the Good Samaritan who helped a stranger.

Although we may be strangers together living here, we can reach out and join together as one human race, regardless of what we look like, speak like or believe – accepting one another without judgements being made.

For me, it’s always been the wonderful thing about living in Hackney.

It’s something we need to continue to work for and to value above all in our relations with one another.

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