Prayers for mosque murders

Kulsum Griffiths, 9, Shaakirah Khan, 12, and Farzaanah Johnson, 14, sat quietly on the pavement outside the Aljaamia Uthmaania mosque in Bonteheuwel, to highlight human rights.

The Bonteheuwel community gathered outside the Aljaamia Uthmaania mosque during Jumuah prayers on Friday March 22, in a show of support for Christchurch, New Zealand, where 50 people were killed at two mosques just the week before.

The group gathered outside the Bonteheuwel mosque and held placards which highlighted human rights, like the right to practise religion freely.

The human chain initiative was started by Claudia Groenmeyer, who mobilised the community for the #BonteheuwelinSolidaritywithChristchurchNZ campaign.

Ms Groenmeyer said the news of the attacks was shocking.

“I have raised two Muslim children. I have taught my children respect for self and respect for others. It is sad that in this day and age, people are not free. A place of worship is supposed to be safe,” she said.

Ms Groenmeyer added that people’s mindset needed to be changed.

“Tolerance is a big word, and once we get that right, everything else will fall into place,” she said.

The campaign Ms Groenmeyer initiated, started on the same day as the shootings, and after reaching out to the Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum (JPF), the campaign was extended until Friday.

The JPF approached the mosque committee to ask for permission for the campaign to be extended.

A statement by the JPF reads: “The Joint Peace Forum takes this opportunity to thank Claudia Groenmeyer for doing a sterling job in initiating the #BonteheuwelinSolidaritywithChristchurchNZ campaign.

“On Sunday March 17, the Joint Peace Forum consulted with the Aljaamia Uthmaania Mosque Committee, and got permission to extend the campaign to Friday March 22.”

It continued: “This marks one week to the day of the vicious attack, condemned as a vile act of terror worldwide.

“On Friday March 22, the JPF and the community of Bonteheuwel of all religions will have a human chain outside the Bonteheuwel mosque in solidarity with Christchurch, New Zealand, and massacres across the world where vile acts of terrorism are perpetuated against mankind simply for their religious beliefs. We note the murders of Christians in Nigeria and condemn in the strongest terms these hideous acts of genocide against humanity.”

It also states that “terrorism is a gross act of cowardice on the part of the terrorist who through radical fundamentalist thinking, perform gruesome acts against humanity to instill fear, anger, hatred and intolerance.”

The JPF’s Nadia Mayman de Grass said that while they mourned the loss of lives around the globe, her community should not forget their human rights which were violated.

“Our human rights are being violated right here in our beautiful Bonteheuwel by unscrupulous gun-slingers who commit hideous crimes on our doorsteps. Let us remember our own friends, family, neighbours and fellow residents who have lost innocent loved ones due to gun violence,” she said.

Condolences from across the globe poured in for the massacres in New Zealand, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was among those who expressed their support.

The national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Bashir Khan, said: “It goes without saying that it was one of the darkest days in the history of New Zealand. We can only imagine what the families and friends of those who have lost their lives or those who have been injured, are going through.

As a community committed to peace and rejection of all forms of extremism, we stand shoulder to shoulder with all those affected, and would like to offer our full and unconditional support to them.”