Victorians Attend Mosques Following Christchurch Attack
Victorians have turned out in force at mosques across the state to show solidarity with Muslims just days after a terrorist attack at Islamic places of worship in New Zealand.
Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Adel Salman told AAP droves of people visited more than 20 mosques in a pre-organised annual statewide open day on Sunday.
I have come back from a mosque in Melbourne during Open Day and am so touched by the preparedness of the faithful and the Imam to forgive and to accept us visitors with grace. Their hearts were breaking, clearly, but they remained kind and open-hearted. "Our hearts are together"— Marcia Langton (@marcialangton) March 17, 2019
"It was the biggest one we have had. It was overwhelming. Throughout the day we had a large attendance - it was fantastic," Mr Salman said after the event.
"People were genuinely wanting to show solidarity."
Bouquets of flowers piled up at the mosques as people made their way through to show support after the Islamic community was targeted in Christchurch on Friday.
89 yr old Bernie was at the mosque open day in Melbourne. His wife’s family died in Auschwitz. He walked to the mosque by himself to say ‘hello brother’. Told me hate speech from politicians need to stop. pic.twitter.com/F4ghHSBTGU— Lisa Millar (@LisaMillar) March 17, 2019
"It is amazing it coincided with such an effort ... and we are able to begin the healing process," Mr Salman said.
The outpouring of support reiterated Premier Daniel Andrews' words that Victorians would not be cowed by an "evil" act of violence done by an alleged Australian terrorist.
Standing in solidarity with our Muslim community today at the West Melbourne Mosque. Our federal politicians, @VicGovernor, fellow Councillors, @cityofmelbourne CEO & I joined Islamic & Christian leaders to celebrate our multiculturalism. Diversity makes us stronger. pic.twitter.com/vsNIW5SpFS— Lord Mayor Melbourne (@LordMayorMelb) March 17, 2019
"On Friday we saw terrible acts of terrorism, of hate, of evil," he said at the state's second-oldest mosque at Preston.
"The crowd assembled here today and in so many places across our city and state says to me that hope and harmony is always more powerful than hate and division."
Mr Andrews later told reporters the authorities took threats of right-wing extremism and threats to multiculturalism seriously, and intervened with de-radicalisation programs.
I love this photo. Captured today by our cameraman Tom at the mosque open day in Newport, Melbourne. I found this to be wonderful, powerful, and filled me with happy. @SBSNews pic.twitter.com/jsBs8zlcN0— Omar Dabbagh (@Omar_Dabbagh) March 17, 2019
Islamic Society of Victoria president Tarek Khodr said people needed to remain united after Friday's attack.
"The terrorist attacks that happen, these are the works of individuals, they don't affect us, we get stronger, we unite when these things happen and we try our best to make things better."