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Well-attended vigil attests to town’s solidarity with Muslims

A large crowd gathered outside Hastings Mosque on Friday to show solidarity with our Muslim fellow citizens in the wake of the murderous assaults on mosques in New Zealand the week before. Nick Terdre reports.

The hour’s vigil was called for by Hastings Community of Sanctuary and the linked groups Hastings Supports Refugees and Hastings and Rother Refugee Buddy Project as a show of solidarity and support for the local Muslim community following the murder of 50 worshippers in two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist gunman a week ago.

Although the vigil at the mosque in Mercatoria, St Leonards, took place in the middle of a working day, getting on for  200 people attended, bringing flowers and messages of solidarity.

Imam Sheikh Ismail Yusuf addresses the gathering.

Imam Sheikh Ismail Yusuf addresses the gathering.

“Our Mosque”

During a break in Friday prayers, the Imam, Sheikh Ismail Yusuf, came out and addressed the crowd, thanking them for their good wishes and support and praising a poster saying simply “Our Mosque” from nine Jewish members of Hastings & Rye Labour Party.

Mayor Nigel Sinden gave a short address, recalling the aptness of the slogan lauding diversity in the town, “One Hastings, Many Voices”. Jane Grimshaw of the Hastings Community of Sanctuary drew attention to the fact that present in the crowd were people of many faiths as well as “philistines” of no faith like herself.

A minute’s silence was held and flowers and messages were laid beside the mosque.

“I must thank all those that set up and those that attended Friday’s vigil at Hastings Mosque,” Mayor Sinden told HOT. “I must also thank  the Iman and members of the Mosque for talking with and joining with the public present, also in giving cake and dates in the Muslim way of showing friendship.

Our Mosque - the message from Rachel Lever and other Jewish members of local Labour.

Our Mosque – the message from Rachel Lever and other Jewish members of local Labour.

“The Hastings vigil was to show the respect and solidarity that many in the town have for this open and friendly Mosque. It was also to offer our condolences through our Town to the Christchurch Mosques in New Zealand.”

On Monday a message was posted on the mosque’s Facebook page thanking “all our neighbours and friends of Hastings Mosque, for their sympathies and heartfelt messages after the killings in New Zealand. At Hastings Community level we are still accepting messages of condolences/flowers.”

The massacre sparked revulsion around the world but also encouraged Islamophobic hate attacks in several countries including the UK.

The mosque’s Facebook page also links to an letter in which 357 Muslim scholars, academics and leaders condemned the massacre and called on the authorities to increase their efforts to combat Islamophobia.

Flowers and messages were left beside the mosque.

Flowers and messages were left beside the mosque.


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Posted 07:29 Sunday, Mar 24, 2019 In: Grassroots

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