Vigils held to remember victims of New Zealand mosque shootings
The Black Country united together in a series of peaceful vigils in memory of those who were killed following the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The vigils took place in Oldbury, outside Sandwell Council House, and Wolverhampton, at Peace Green just outside the city centre on Friday.
Various councillors and leaders gave speeches to crowds of more than 100 people at each.
Sandwell Council Leader Councillor Steve Trow said: “It’s very important for us to join together, as we have done following other terrorist incidents including the Tunisia attack which claimed the lives of three members of a family from Sandwell four years ago.
“Such solidarity is part of who we are in Sandwell and there are strong links across our communities, including people of all faiths and with no faith who respect each other.
“This spontaneous response from the community shows the determination from people here in Sandwell that this mutual respect will not be shaken by terrible incidents like this and that we condemn those responsible.”
The council’s deputy leader Councillor Syeda Khatun added: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy in New Zealand. We will not let terrorists divide us and our communities stand together in peace and unity.”
Speakers at the Oldbury vigil included Councillor Trow, Ragih Muflihi, Imam Ghulam Rasool and Reverend David Gould.
More than 100 people gathered during the evening on Peace Green, to remember those who died.
Speakers at the Wolverhampton vigil included Councillor Jas Dehar, MP Eleanor Smith and others.
Councillor Dehar, who is also a member of Wolverhampton Interfaith, said: "We at Interfaith stand in solidarity and prayer with our brothers and sisters. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased in New Zealand.
"All people should be able to worship in safety - we must stand united. We must stand to show evil has no please here and cannot win."
The Wolverhampton vigil was organised by Councillor Obaida Ahmed, representing St Peter's Ward. The Oldbury vigil was led by Sandwell's Inclusive Muslim Action Network (IMAN) – which represents mosques and Muslim organisations in Sandwell – and the Faithful Friends multi-faith network.
A total of 49 people were killed and dozens more wounded after the mosque shootings in Christchurch. A man in his late 20s has been charged with murder. Two more people are in custody. The attack was live-streamed on Facebook.
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