Launceston communities come together for Christchurch at vigil

ChristchurchHundreds of people, standing in silence, hands clasped, with their heads bowed and their eyes closed, as candles flickered orange across Civic Square.

That was the scene in Launceston on the night of Sunday, March 17, at the vigil for victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack.

Religious, cultural, and national differences were rendered insignificant, as messages of love and solidarity were read out by City Baptist Church pastor Jeff McKinnon, Khan Ali Rasouli, a community elder from the Muslim Hazara community, and City of Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten.

But the most moving parts of the vigil came in the form of music.

Hazara man Syed Hossiani sung a verse from the Koran in the tongue it was written in, and his voice rang through the silence.

“I love you all,” he said, at the conclusion of the verse.

This was followed by a Maori song of support, delivered by four New Zealander women.

Greg Oates, a Kiwi that has lived in Christchurch, and his next-door neighbour, Nour Nazari, a Muslim man from Afghanistan, attended the vigil together, draped in the red stars of the New Zealand flag.

Mr Oates said the throng of people in the square exemplified why he wanted to live in Launceston.

“I don’t think there’s many towns the size of this one that would have done something like this,” he said.

Fifty people were killed in the terrorist attack on Friday, March 15, when an allegedly Australian man stormed a mosque in Christchurch and shot worshipers, with 50 others injured.

Muslim elder Khan Ali Rasouli said the massacre had scared the families and friends of the victims, “and us”.

“The struggle against this type of ideology is the responsibility of the international community,” he said.

Messages of support to be sent to Christchurch can be made at the Launceston City Council office.

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