“Love is much more stronger and much more prominent than hatred,” spokeswoman says
More than 140 people gathered together Friday for an interfaith vigil and funeral prayer at the Islamic Center of Middle Georgia for the victims of New Zealand’s Christchurch mosque attacks.
The event came one week after a gunman opened fire March 15 at Christchurch’s Al Noor and Linwood mosques that left 50 people dead and dozens more wounded. Burials have taken place throughout the week, with a mass burial for 26 of the victims held Friday at Christchurch’s New Park Cemetery.
“The Islamic Center of Middle Georgia is welcoming our friends and neighbors from all walks of life and from different faith traditions to support the Muslim community as they’re subjected to acts of hatred and violence in New Zealand, of course, and all over the world,” said Eman Abdulla, co-founder of the Women’s Interfaith Alliance of Central Georgia.
“It is important to show the world ... that Muslims are not alone but all the good people in the world and in the American community and in the local community, or a good number of them, at least, stand in support of tolerance, of coexistence, of the path of love rather than the path of hate and bigotry which we have seen in the news lately a lot,” she said.
About 70 members of the Islamic Center came out for the event, along with about an equal number of their friends and supporters, Abdulla said. More people continued to arrive throughout the nearly hour-long event.
Rabbi Aaron Sataloff of Temple Beth Israel was among those who came. He expressed overwhelming sorrow over the tragedy in New Zealand.
“I recall that not in the too distant past our very own Muslim community stood beside us, the Jewish community, hand in hand, heart in heart, to support the Jewish community of Macon following the Pittsburgh synagogue shootings, and now, here we are to stand alongside them because we’re all appalled by the murderous assaults,” Sataloff said.
“We all detest the racist individuals imbued with malice and hatred; the ones that seek to overturn the beautiful interfaith, intercultural and interracial world that we are continuing to build together which is why our answer must be unity, solidarity and linked arms against evil,” Sataloff said.
The Rev. Tommy Martin of Macon noted as he looked over the crowd of different faiths and ages, “This gathering looks like what our Creator intends for our world to look like.”
Chuck Shaheen, a former Warner Robins mayor and councilman, focused on commonalities among people and the need to love one another.
Abdualla was thankful for the show of the support at the vigil.
“We are very grateful that they show us — and show the world- that love is much more stronger and much more prominent than hatred,” she said.