Community extends condolences over tragedy

SCHOOL students in Guildford, firefighters in Merrylands and health workers in Auburn were among the many Australians to reach out to their local Muslim communities and throw their arms around those impacted by the tragic events in Christchurch.

Guildford Public School principal Chris Haberecht and three student leaders (pictured0 took bouquets of flowers to three Guildford mosques.

Mr Haberecht said the spontaneous visits to the Rahma, the ICMG, and the Al Salam Musalla Mosques were a symbolic gesture of support and connectivity.

“We just wanted to extend our support to the mosques and tell the Islamic community that we are behind them,” he said.

“Together we can emphasise and model that community is as strong as the people in it.”

Outside Merrylands Fire Station (pictured), the message board displayed the phrase ‘Inna
’, used by many Muslims when they hear someone has died, and which means ‘To God we belong and to him we return’.

On Facebook, the station offered their condolences to all of those involved, from the families of the victims and to the first responders: “We look in the eyes of those who wish to oppress us and to strike fear into us and say: ‘No! We will not be moved’.”

At St Joseph’s Hospital in Auburn, mission integration manger Matthew Bullen (pictured) said they began an annual lunch and mass honouring their Patron Saint Joseph on Tuesday, March 19, with a commemoration to remember the victims and their families.

“Our message is that we stand as one with our Muslim brothers and sisters and our heart goes out to all in our local community who have been profoundly affected by this act,” Mr Bullen said.

“We then had Serpil Ersan, one of our Muslim staff members, light a candle of commemoration and a minute’s silence followed, with a visiting musician noting the solidarity and power of that silence within the 70 to 80 people gathered.”

Cumberland Council also extended their condolences, holding a minutes silence before their meeting on Wednesday and prayers from both Father Peter Blayney from Guildford Catholic Church and Sheik Mohammed Alzoubi from Auburn Islamic Community Centre.