“You are my friends. I will keep watch while you pray.”
A few days ago we heard the most beautiful story on RNZ (love this radio station). Unsurprisingly – it was to do with the shootings in Christchurch, but surprisingly it was about a man, who many thousands of kilometres away, on the other side of the world, in Manchester to be exact, felt compelled to do something, anything in fact, to express the sadness and extreme pain he felt, and to comfort and reassure his Muslim brothers and sisters.
So Andrew Graystone from Levenshulme stood outside the Madina mosque on Friday last, just about 12 hours after the shootings happened, holding a cardboard sign on which he had hurriedly written, “You are my friends. I will keep watch while you pray.”
Graystone said he was motivated to support his Muslim community after the terrorist attack last Friday morning. “I thought, what would it feel like as a Muslim going to prayers that day? I would feel a mixture of enmity and even fear.”
He greeted arriving worshippers with “salaam” or peace. Many people, he said, were suspicious at first. “They thought I was a protester, but when they saw what was written on the board, people warmed to me.”
Graystone stood outside during the Friday prayers, unaware that the imam of the mosque had commended him during the service. “When people came out, I was surrounded by hundreds of people. People were thanking me, blessing me. Some people said their faith in humanity was restored.”
Images of Graystone holding his sign have been shared widely social media, with many from around the world commending his act of solidarity. He received over 100,000 positive messages during the first 24 hours after holding his sign, and says that he feels quite humbled by the power of choosing friendship over fear.
Andrew Graystone is just one of many stories of hope that have come from this terrible situation. To help and support our Muslim communities, here are a few ways you can help:
To help the families affected by this callous act you can donate to the Give a Little fund which is now at $7,294,257. There has also been a new fund created by The Christchurch Foundation to raise money for families and Muslim communities affected by the attacks at the request of Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel. Donations can be made here on their website or any TSB branch or by bank transfer to the foundation’s account: The Christchurch Foundation,15-3976-0091104-80.
Attend a Vigil
Many communities have come together to pray, respect and remember the lives of the lost. There will be a Peace Vigil in Newmarket on the 22nd of March at 1:30pm on the Lumsden Green (corner of Khyber Pass Road & Broadway). Also on the same night a vigil will be held in the Auckland Domain, Jummah Remembrance at 6pm. On Sunday Stand Against Racism in Aotea Square from 2pm. Coming together as one and letting each other know we are here for one another.
Wear Your Support
Together as One, wear the Kotahitianga pin to show your solidarity with all the proceeds going to Victim Support Nz. You can also show support through the Unity t-shirt from Def Store with 100% of the profit donated to the families affected.