12 Jan 2015

Multi faith vigil condemns terror attacks

5:35 am on 12 January 2015

An Islamic leader has urged people to show more respect for Islam in the wake of the terror attacks in France that have left 17 people dead.

Imam Sheikh Mohammed Zewada was one of almost 100 Muslims, Christians and Jews who joined together in a prayer vigil at the Wellington Islamic Centre in Kilbirnie yesterday.

Sultan Eusoff

Sultan Eusoff Photo: RNZ / Max Towle

They heard messages from the co-chairs of the Wellington Council of Christians and Jews, Dave Moskovitz and Reverend Jenny Chalmers, as well as the group's Muslim representative Sultan Eusoff.

"We are gathered here today to show our solidarity as one community against violence and hate," said Mr Eusoff.

Reverend Chalmers said it was important for the three religions to come together as they believed in the same God of justice and mercy.

"We come together refusing to be defined by people on the edges of our faiths," she said.

Mr Moskovitz said each religion had its extremists.

"One of the really sad things about events like this is they're committed by extremists who are not representatives of the vast majority of adherists to our religions," he said.

Reverend Jenny Chalmers and Dave Moskovitz

Reverend Jenny Chalmers and Dave Moskovitz Photo: RNZ / Max Towle

The French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which was the subject of the first terror attack, was known for printing caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

The Kilbirnie mosque's imam, Sheikh Mohammed Zewada, condemned the terror attacks, but called on people to show more respect for Islam.

He said people should stop creating images of the prophet Muhammad, which is disrespectful.

"I totally disagree with what has happened in Paris. [But] freedom of expression does not mean I have the right to abuse other people or ridicule their faith," he said.

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the vigil showed how multicultural and accepting of other cultures the city was.

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