For the past three years the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) has been conducting state-wide Victorian Mosque Open Days, supported by the State Government and the Victorian Multicultural Commission – and this year by the the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC).
This year, our Mosque Open Day which included 21 participating Mosques from Morwell to Dandenong to Deer Park and Geelong and the CBD and many
more areas, coincided with Cultural Diversity Week and Harmony Day… but it also coincided with the tragic events we saw unfold last Friday.
Where 50, and counting, Muslims were killed in an evil attack by a terrorist during Jumu’ah prayers in Christchurch. It was so close to home – as many Muslims attend these prayers every Friday with their families and children.
Thousands of Victorian, attended Mosques in solidarity with our tragic loss. Men, women, children, newborns, the elderly, politicians and community
leaders – people from all walks of life.
Some came in and just wanted to embrace the Muslim community in silence – shedding tears, others gave flowers, heartfelt letters of support – the amount of apologies heard, could not be counted. Visitors removed their shoes, toured our Mosques, said Assalamu Alaikum, tried on our hijabs, prayed with us in their own way. It was a taste of Utopia.
Geelong Mosque had 2000 visitors enter their doors, others lost count. “What happened in Christchurch is not Australian, this does not represent us, nobody deserves this, we are one” – these were the words which echoed across the day by visitors.
ICMG Meadow Heights Mosque had people standing outside silently with signs “You pray inside. I’ll stand here and keep you safe.”
Some Mosques, which weren’t originally participating even felt compelled to open their doors to respond in gratitude for all the support from their neighbours. Maori groups visited and performed the Haka at Mosques to show their compassion. The outpour of empathy, unity and love was very overwhelming.
ICV President Mohamed Mohideen said, “The love and support shown to us as Muslims has helped us in the healing process. We thank each and every one of you who made the time to come and visit us all yesterday, offering your love and comfort.”