Human chain to protect Friday prayers at Pōneke mosque

By Te Ao - Māori News

Well-wishers leave flowers near the scene of the shootings in Christchurch (Source: File).

Muslims worshipping at the Kilbirnie Masjid in Wellington this Friday will be shielded by a human chain surrounding the mosque complex during their Jumu’ah (Friday) prayers.

It was during prayers last Friday that worshippers were attacked at the Masjid Al Noor and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch.

The Anglican Assistant Bishop of Wellington, Eleanor Sanderson says, “supporting a life of prayer is central to all three Abrahamic faiths.  This is a tangible way that our people can come together to protect what should always be protected”.

Co-organiser of the human chain event, Daniel Kleinsman, says it’s not a new idea.

“It’s been organised overseas when Muslim and Jewish communities have been attacked.  It’s a powerful symbol of support and love, but it’s also practical.  It seeks to create a physical barrier of protection for those persecuted at this time.”

Wellingtonians who want to take part are being asked to gather outside the Masjid complex on Queens Drive, Kilbirnie at 1.15pm.  They will be there as Muslim worshippers arrive and will stay until the last has left.

“We’re encouraging people to come together in solidarity and peace.  We want to reassure our Muslim brothers and sisters that we are here for them and with them; we want to create the bonds and relationships that prevent such an act of terrorism from occurring ever again,” says Daniel Kleinsman.

The organisers are encouraging those who may be coming from further away to use public transport where feasible, because of the traffic problems that a high number of cars may cause.

Co-organiser Lachlan Mackay is calling for the Kilbirnie human chain of protection to be replicated across New Zealand.

“It will help to send a very clear message to those who support hate crimes– that they will never win in dividing New Zealanders nor will they win in spreading hatred here– we won’t let them”.

Mackay says he has received messages of support, and condolences, from across the world, including from Nobel Peace nominee Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish based in Toronto, the Chicago-based Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Dr Arun Gandhi; and Iman Abdul Malik Mujahid of Sound Vision also in Chicago.

“All these messages are heartening, and we have passed them on to our Muslim brothers and sisters”.