Vigil held in Amherst for victims of Christchurch shooting

  • Helena Donovan, center, of South Hadley, and about 30 others took part in a noontime vigil on the Amherst Common on Friday, March 22, 2019, to show support for the Muslim community one week after the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Participants in the event, organized by the Interfaith Opportunities Network, held signs such as "Love, Respect, Protect" and "You shall love the stranger - for you were once strangers. - Deut. 10:19" STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Peter Blood of Amherst, with the Interfaith Opportunities Network, talks about his group's noontime vigil on the Amherst Common on Friday, March 22, 2019, to show support for the Muslim community one week after the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 3/22/2019 4:49:32 PM

AMHERST — About 30 members of local faith communities stood together in the rain by the Amherst Common on Friday to show their support for the Muslim community in the wake of the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand last Friday.

Supporters held a variety of posters with messages like “Supporting our Muslim sisters and brothers” and “Remember Christchurch.” The vigil was organized by the Interfaith Opportunities Network (ION) in support of the local Muslim community. 

“We want them to feel welcomed,” said Katie Tolles, co-convener of ION. “I think that when something like this happens, it creates fear and isolation and a sense of not belonging and not knowing where you can be safe.”

The shooting, which killed 50 people and injured nearly 50 others in two mosques, has caused rising tension in the United States. President Trump refused to condemn white supremacists for the attack, despite the shooter’s reference to the president in his manifesto as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

“We’d like to see our president and our nation be more clear that certain groups are not to blame,” said Peter Blood, co-convener of ION.

“We think it’s extremely important for people of all different faith denominations to stand with each other side by side when things like this happen so that those who are affected do not feel that they’re alone,” Blood added. “I think that the attitude of the Valley is very similar to New Zealand. It’s a very supportive, welcoming place, so I think it’s particularly scary that [the shooting] could happen even in such a safe place.”




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