The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) hosted a vigil on the evening of Monday 18 March outside the Victorian State Library to offer prayers and support to the Muslims who died in the two terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Thousands of people from many walks of life gathered in the heart of Melbourne for the moving vigil which brought together leaders from across faith communities, the Governor General of Victoria, Politicians and other dignitaries in a show of support and solidarity to mourn together.
ICV Vice-President, Adel Salman and MC for the night said “The events in New Zealand have touched all of us deeply. Many of us are heart-broken. New Zealand is a close friend to Australia. We share a deep affinity with them. This will leave a large hole in all of our hearts”
In a moving tribute members of the New Zealand community came out performed the Hakka.
Phillip Huggins, President of the National Council of Churches and one of a number of faith leaders to speak on the night said “My prayer is for the injured : – who need such care; My prayer is for the traumatised, including the vicariously traumatised: – for the healing of memory; My prayer is for young and old Muslims : – that they may feel safe to again go their mosque and say their prayers”
Victorian Governor Linda Dessau addressed the crowd by saying
“How reassuring it is to see such a large crowd gathered here and how very much I wish we weren’t here at all” Governor Dessau said. “It helps us remember that people are kind and good and that our differences make us richer and together we are stronger.”
Multiple Books of Remembrances were provided for attendees to express their condolences. These books will be passed on to the Christchurch Muslim community in coming weeks.
The night ended with Salat al-Gha’ib – a funeral prayer performed when the bodies of the dead are not present. ICV president Mohamed Mohideen said the Islamic community of Melbourne had been overwhelmed by the support they had received.
“We need to stand up together,” he said. “Freedom of speech is every human right but with that also comes responsibility. Love and hope are two words I want to believe in.”
Mr Mohideen said. “I believe they can conquer mountains.”
The ICV would like to convey its thanks to the many thousands who stood with us during the Prayer Vigil in solemn solidarity and with genuine love and understanding.
The Vigil was live-streamed on the ICV Facebook page and can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/icv.official/
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