by Ilsa Cunningham published by Blue Mountains Gazette

Tears flowed and words of compassion, love and solidarity rang out at a vigil in Katoomba on Friday for the victims of the Christchurch tragedy.

About 400 people gathered at Peace Park near the council chambers for two minutes silence for the 50 people killed in the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on March 15.

One of the organisers of the vigil, Jude Finch from the Blue Mountains Women’s Health and Resource Centre, spoke of taking a stand against bigotry, hatred and discrimination, and pausing to reflect on a way forward.

“Today we have the opportunity to consider how we change the world we live in,” she said.

“It would be good if today led to purposeful actions.”

A local Muslim woman spoke of the importance of “uniting against oppression and violence” and extended her thanks and gratitude to the people present from Muslims around the world.

“Your love can dissipate hate,” she said.

Aunty Carol Cooper also spoke about the value of love.

“If we can give a bit of love out to everybody and a bit of care, that’s what love is about, caring for everybody,” she said.

Federal MP for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, spoke of tolerance, compassion and respect – not being about political correctness – but values that unite people.

“We’re here to show our solidarity, not just with New Zealand, but all Australians and Muslim Australia, so they know they are accepted in our country,” she said.

Deputy mayor Chris Van der Kley, standing in for mayor Mark Greenhill, said it was hard to imagine why someone would do this, and that a mayoral minute in support of Christchurch would be put forward at next week’s council meeting. 

Chris Wheeler and The Heathens choir from Blackheath sang three songs, and there was a performance by the Wagana Dancers, involving the gathering of energy from the crowd into some eucalyptus branches to send across the water.

Thrive Services had also set up a photo booth at the vigil, for people to take a photo of themselves with a message of support, to be sent as a collage to the Muslim community in Sydney expressing the community’s love and goodwill and hope for the future.

Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group, Thrive Family Support and Blue Mountains City Council also helped organise the vigil.

 

by Joy Connor, Chairperson BMRSG

A heart warming event. Thanks Jude for all your work. An inspiring welcome to country from Aunty Carol and the fantastic cleansing of the space by Jo and the Aboriginal dancers large and very very small small,

Such heart warming values statements from our local politicians, a wonderful speech by Izzah Manto representing the local Muslim community, reminding us that “the fire of hate can only be cleansed by the water of love” and thanking the Blue Mountains Community for that love, fantastic music from The Heathens which released so much emotion and lots of tiny contributions from different people from Maori words of peace to George Winston’s reminder that after 69 years in Australia he can still remember as a teenager nearly being killed by white supremacists-called Nazis-

A thoughtful inspiring event, Blessed are the Peacemakers.

 

Thanks to Blue Mountains Gazette for the photos.

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