Our hearts are broken for another instance of violence and hatred in our world. We express our deepest condolences for our Muslim brothers and sisters at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, who were gunned down today by a white supremacist while they were in the midst of prayers. Forty-nine people were killed in a carefully planned terrorist execution.
Rev. Lauren Ramseur, Covenant Pastor of Bon Air Presbyterian Church in Richmond said, “We stand in solidarity with our siblings in faith, the Muslim community, and pray with deepest condolences for the families who have lost loved ones today. Our prayers lead us ever deeper into action, to live our faith and shared values of building a beloved community where all people can live and worship in peace and security.”
“As a member of the board of the Virginia Interfaith Center, I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to work together with people of all faiths to build a better Virginia for us all. We will continue to stand together against white supremacy and hatred in all its forms as we work to build a community of peace and welcome in our Commonwealth,” said Rev. Ramseur.
Qasim Rashid, human rights attorney, and activist said, “As we mourn the lives lost, we must seek strength in one another. We must learn to stand united across race and religion. Extremism can only harm us if we allow it to divide us. We must stand united for our own safety and our own progress.”
Rabbi Michael Knopf of Temple Beth El in Richmond, (and a VICPP board member) wrote, “My heart hurts for all those, in the US and around the world, who have been demeaned, threatened and ultimately subjected to violence for their faith, heritage or ethnicity. Among the great shames of our age is that we have come to assume that gun violence can strike us or our loved ones anywhere—in the office, on the street, in a movie theater, in school.”
Rabbi Knopf warns, “Even still, there is a special kind of horror knowing that sacred spaces, too, can be the sites of such carnage. No person should ever feel unsafe walking into mosque, church, synagogue, or temple. I lift up the survivors of Tree of Life, Sutherland Springs, Mother Emmanuel, and Oak Creek, knowing that this attack, a world away, is an attack on all people of faith, and will likely thrust many survivors back into their own trauma.”
Hurunessa Fariad of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS Center) (and a VICPP board member) said, “we urge a swift law enforcement response to this hate crime terrorism, as well as proactive measures to better protect all countries’ citizens. We also urge an immediate end of the intemperate language, vicious verbal attacks, and false accusations by those who seek to divide our nation, and which encourages those who see violence as an acceptable way to express their views.”
The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is actively working for a just, more inclusive, and more welcoming Virginia. We advocate for the rights of immigrants, Muslims, and all minority groups to be free to worship in a safe environment and we support legislation to protect minority communities and stop the escalating racial violence in Virginia.
We grieve with the Muslim community and with faith communities around the world.
With peace and solidarity,
Kim Bobo and Pastor Rodney Hunter
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
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The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy advocates economic, social, and environmental justice
in Virginia’s policies and practices through education, prayer, and action.
VICPP is a non-partisan coalition of more than 700 faith communities working for a more just society.
Photo: Police attempt to clear people from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand,
Friday, March 15, 2019. (Mark Baker / Associated Press)