Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Mosque Opens Arms and Hearts to Hundreds; Locals Come Together in Wake of Christchurch

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Mosque Opens Arms and Hearts to Hundreds; Locals Come Together in Wake of Christchurch

Article excerpt

Byline: Katie Hall katie.hall@news-mail.com.au

A TRAGEDY beyond words and beyond understanding last week changed New Zealand forever.

And while the aftershocks of the terror attack on two Christchurch mosques were felt the world over, it was also felt in the heart of Bundaberg.

On Saturday, the Turkish Islamic Association of Bundaberg opened their doors to the community, and the resounding message was clear: you are all welcome here.

About 300 locals gathered together at the Hanbury St mosque on a sunny afternoon in an effort to drive out the darkness of the event of the day that saw 51 innocent lives senselessly cut short.

Bundaberg Turkish and Islamic Society spokeswoman Scarlett Kayis stood before the heaving crowd, urging the community to stand united in peace.

"'Hello brother' were the final words offered in peace by the first victim whose life was taken by this coward," Ms Kayis said.

"Terrorist, you failed. The only thing this terrorist showed the world was that terror has no religion or ethnicity.

"Terror has no humanity and that we must be mindful of all those who drive the divide and spread hate in our society.

"Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate, only love can do that."

Bundaberg Turkish and Islamic Society vice-president Muhammed Emin Yildirim said it was "amazing" to see so many people attend and take a tour of the mosque.

"We've had support since the first day," Mr Yildirim said of the locals who had left flowers in the days since the attack.

"My school teacher once told me 'the crowd is the power' and today the crowd is the power.

"We know we are accepted in this community ... this was the biggest step, it is easier from today."

Ms Kayis and Mr Yildirim shared hopes the goodwill of the open day would continue and lead the way for similar events to be held in Bundaberg. …

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