Religious leaders and people of varying faiths have united at a Perth church to condemn the terror attack in New Zealand on Friday in a show of solidarity with the families of those killed and injured.
The vigil at the William Street church drew many West Australians including the state’s Governor Kim Beazley, who joined community members in lighting a candle to mark the lives lost.
Following the first court appearance of accused Australian gunman Brenton Tarrant over the attack, Mr Beazley said what happened in Christchurch was a crime of pure evil. “This is an act of calculated, planned, thought out, philosophised evil,” he said.
“It is necessary at this point, above all, to think of the families, to think of the destruction of their lives, the destruction of their children, the destruction of a sense of safety in their community in the thought that they will live with this forever.
“Their lives will be damaged for their entirety. The fact that we’re here in solidarity is the human thing to do.”
Muslim woman and mother-of-two Fadwa Tabbalo was “deeply moved” and upset by the attack and attended the vigil in a stance of solidarity with her daughters Amani and Alissa.
“I was deeply moved and upset by what happened in Christchurch because it’s so close to home,” she said.
“No one in this beautiful country or in New Zealand expected this very heartless act to happen in such a safe country.
“It doesn’t matter where we are, who we are, what we believe in, or our religion; faith; culture, we should all have a safe place to live. We need to live together as one in peace.”
Reverend Chris Bedding, Rector, Anglican Parish of Darlington-Belleuve, said the community was mourning alongside their Muslim sisters and brothers, in shock at the cruel and unprovoked attack.
“We reject violence in the name of any religion, and pray for mutual respect and inclusion,” he said. “We commit to live in peace alongside people of all faiths and worldviews.”
Reverend Frances Hadfield, Minister at UCIC, Wesley Perth said it was important for Muslims and Christians to gather as people of faith and demonstrate the strength of common humanity. “It is through our love for each other that we can overcome the forces that would seek to divide us,” she said.
“We want to show the world we are friends together, we are not in animosity towards each other, we worship the same God in different ways but we believe that worshipping God is for us all.”
Perth Mosque’s Imam Mohammed Shakeeb addressed concerns some people would live in fear in wake of the attack and be reluctant to attend local places of worship, saying the mosque leaders would be more vigilant and that police had increased patrols of places of worship.
“It is important the entire Australian community know that none of us want to live in a divided community,” he said.
“We try to make the world a better place and we continue with our lives and try to educate one another.”
Australian Islamic College student counsellor Wael Ibrahim had a message for both the Muslim and wider Australian community, asking people to not use the massacre to fuel hatred. “To the Muslim community, please do not let emotions surrounding this incident to fuel hatred towards the non Muslim community at large,” he said. “For non Muslims, as you have seen, terrorism has no religion.
“No one would ever commit such a crime in the name of God Almighty, who every time we recite his name we associate it with mercy, compassion and love.
“Do not mix up Islam, the religion of peace, with acts of terrorism, likewise do not associate an act of lunacy, from the non-Muslim community with everyone in the neighbourhood.”
Thornlie Mosque Imam Safdar Parkar said he was unaware so far at how many Perth families were directly affected by the terror attack but knew there was a member of the South Perth community whose relative was one of the victims killed.