THE community of Redditch stood shoulder to shoulder today, Friday, March 15, as countries around the world recoiled in horror at the terror shootings in New Zealand.
It follows the murder of 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand which horrifically was live streamed through a head camera worn by the gunman.
Gathering at Redditch Central Mosque, leaders from across the political spectrum and local Police officers met with members of the Muslim community with the simple, single message – we stand united and they shall not divide us.
Addressing worshippers assembled for Friday prayers, Chief Inspector Gerry Smith of Redditch and Bromsgrove Police said he echoed the condolences already expressed by the British Police.
“As a local police force we will do all we can to provide re-assurance in the areas around the three mosques in Redditch,” he said.
“I’m aware there are concerns about the social media posts circulating and I would urge people not to share any posts sent to you, do not view the material and please report anything that is a hate crime.”
However he said there was no intelligence or information regarding any threat in this area.
Mr Hussain said: “As representatives of the Muslim community of Redditch and its surrounding areas and in unity with the Police and council representatives we strongly condemn the horrific and most heinous terrorist attacks carried out on innocent worshippers at the Al-Noor and Linwood Mosques in New Zealand today.
“This was a cowardly and sickening attack on not only men but women and shockingly children too.
“We are all heartbroken and we offer our sincerest condolences and prayers to all the victims and their families.
“The narrative of hatred has no faith, all terrorists are evil criminals and should be labelled as such.”
TO show solidarity with the people of New Zealand a Unity Gathering is to be held at Redditch Central Mosque next Friday, March 22 at 1.30pm.
“We invite all communities and people of all faiths and groups to join in unity with us and thus send out a clear and unwavering message that no matter how they try and divide us we are all united as one against all terrorism,” said Mr Hussain.
Councillor Bill Hartnett, leader of the Redditch Labour group said: “Too many times Rafa and I have stood shoulder to shoulder due to acts of terrorism.
“This latest act of terrorism is both shocking and tragic and are thoughts and prayers are with the families of those affected.
“Redditch is a proud, diverse and multi-cultural town and we stand together in both good times and bad.”
The flag at the town hall has been lowered to half mast and a Mayoral letter of condolence is being prepared to be sent to the Mayor of Christchurch.
In a statement Councillor Matt Dormer, Leader of Redditch Borough Council, said: “Our hearts go out to everyone affected by these atrocities.
“We will always stand together as a community united against the hatred and division that these attacks seek to provoke.”
Nitin Sodha from the Hindu community in Redditch said: “The New Zealand attack has been an appalling and sickening attack on innocent people going about their own life.
“Like everybody, we are extremely saddened by what has happened and pray for the departed souls, and the deepest condolences and support for those who have lost their loved ones.
“I feel the need to remind ourselves of our Redditch Pledge that was developed by all faiths and none and share it with anybody who cares.
“We pledge ourselves as one united community, respecting all races, faiths and beliefs, to build on our common values to achieve happiness and progress for all.
Borough Councillor Jenny Wheeler, from the Jewish community said: “I am appalled at the racist attack against the Muslim community that took place at two Mosques in New Zealand with a current death toll of 49 innocent people with many others injured.
“This callous terrorist attack by white right wing supremacists is a slur on all of society and we must stand together and reject this outlandish radical behaviour.
“To protect freedom of speech and the ability to worship in our communities should be a basic right of every individual in civilised society.
“We know from history how previous events such as the Holocaust and following genocides started from the mindset of intolerance and hatred to others.
“My thoughts and condolences go out to all the people affected in Christchurch and to the people of New Zealand in this time of great sadness.
“We must all stand together to speak against those who perpetrate these violent and cruel acts against our fellow human beings.”