A peace vigil spurred by the New Zealand mosque massacres has been organised by Khoja leaders in Florida to promote interfaith understanding.
Diverse members of the faith community came together for the Peace, Unity, Humanity vigil in Sanford, including Shias and Sunnis, priests, rabbis and pastors along with scholars, human rights advocates, a chaplain and deputy sheriff and city officials.
Group spokesperson Minaz Manekia of the Husseini Islamic Center, a member of Nasimco, said: “The first step to curb hostilities is for us as neighbours to know each other.”
The coalition of community groups and leaders highlighted the growing violence against religious, ethnic, minority and marginal groups in the United States and internationally.
Stand up against racism
The audience heard that it would take coalitions to destroy bigotry and hatred and that Sanford could be the springboard for this new movement. One observer remarked: “This is what we need. People to stand up to tell the truth against racism and bigotry.”
The gathering was sparked by the mosque massacres in Christchurch. Several speakers focused on the peaceful nature of Islam and the evil of killing innocent people, and Imam Mujtaba Khaliq of the Husseini Islamic Centre said: “When you kill one innocent person it is like killing all of humanity.”
The event under the umbrella of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida was organised in less than two weeks thanks to the close relationship between the Husseini Islamic Center and Sanford’s City Manager and police department, which waived it usual fees.