Christchurch, New Zealand.
How can we begin to express our sorrow for the loss of 50 community members, gathered for Friday prayers at two local mosques?
Houses of worship attacked in the name of hate—with guns and at least one car wired to explode. It is unimaginable for most of us.
Christchurch was already a city broken, quite literally, by an earthquake in 2011. It is still suffering from effects of the destruction. Residents know how to be there for one another. They do.
But the seeds of hate sown in this act of violence were deliberate and calculated. Every shot fired into those mosques was meant to inject fear into the hearts of Muslims around the world.
Non-Muslim friends, our Muslim brothers and sisters need us today. All of us. They need us to show up—with our bodies, and with our voices.
Here are 5 things you can do today to unmake violence in honor of those 49 lives lost.
1. Call your local mosque.
Leave a voicemail including your name, your neighborhood, and a message of love and support.
This is not the time for anonymous forwards on social media. Your Muslim neighbors need to know who is with them. They need to hear the concern and care in your voice.
If you’re unsure what to say, you can use this sample script as a guide:
Hi, my name is [NAME] and I live just a few miles from your mosque. I heard about the terrorist attack in New Zealand and I wanted to call to say I am so sorry. I am so grateful that your mosque is part of our city. I hope you can share with everyone in your community that they are loved, welcome, and wanted in our city.
How is everyone feeling today?
Is there anything my friends and I can do to support you this week?
Would it be OK for my friends and I to stop by to show our support in person?
2. Visit your local mosque today.
Stand with them—go to your local mosque and stand nearby with signs of love and support. If you can bring friends and or supportive members of your faith community, all the better.
Physically surround your local mosque with a wall of love. Let them know that they aren’t alone.
3. Support those who cannot worship.
Many Muslims in your community won’t be free to go to Friday prayers because they need to work. If you know of local businesses run or staffed by Muslim neighbors, stop in today, and voice your support.
Be mindful that because of their job, they won’t have much time to talk. But if they are unable to gather with their community, bring community to them.
Pursue peace through action. around the world, where you live. Join The Frontline.
4. Show your face, not just your solidarity.
If you choose to show support through tangible gifts, like food or flowers, be sure to take them yourself.
Do not leave items at mosques to be found by mosque members. So soon after the Christchurch attack, there will be heightened fear about further violence, and packages (even pretty packages) left at mosques could look like bombs.
Besides, what your local Muslim community needs most today is you—your presence, your face, your tears.
5. Expand your circle.
If you realize that you don’t have any Muslim friends in your own circle to reach out to today, to make sure they’re okay, make a commitment to expand your circle. Your life will be infinitely richer for it.
You don’t have to feel helpless in the face of tragic violence. You don’t have to feel defeated, or doubt your ability to make change. You have the power to change the atmosphere in your community to one of love and understanding.
Your community needs you.