Burnley comes together to remember victims of Christchurch terror attack

Burnley united in grief at a peace vigil to remember the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack in New Zealand.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 8:42 am
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 9:53 am
Civic and religious leaders lead the service

Building Bridges in Burnley organised the vigil at the Peace Gardens in Burnley where local religious, community and political leaders took part in multi-faith prayers.

The vigil was conducted by Coun. Afrasiab Anwar MBE, Imam Qari Abdur Razzaque, of Faizan E Madina Mosque, and Father Peter Hapgood-Strickland, of St Andrew's Church, led the opening prayers.

Followed by moving speeches from Mozaquir Ali, director of Building Bridges in Burnley, Coun. Mark Townsend, leader of Burnley Council, Neil Hart, chief executive of Burnley Football in the Community, Sajda Majeed MBE, Rev. Liz Hewitt, and Imam Moulana Mohammed Abu Zahr.

Members of the public at the peace vigil

An interfaith choir sang the national anthem of New Zealand and the vigil was brought to a close by the Bishop of Burnley, the Rev. Philip North, with a two minutes silence and prayer for victims and for peace.

Mr Ali said: "Burnley came out in force to show our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in New Zealand at their darkest hour, to express our solidarity, compassion and pray for the victims and their families, and above all our defiance against all forms of hatred."

The Bishop of Burnley, who is also the president of Building Bridges, said: "The vigil in Burnley was a powerful and moving occasion, a credit to our town. It was attended by a wide range of people, Christians, Muslims and those of other faiths or none.

"However all were united in their desire to express their horror at the shootings the previous week in Christchurch, and also their shared commitment to building a town and a world where justice and peace prevail. In the short but dignified ceremony there were some excellent speeches, a two minute silence and an opportunity for people to share a sign of peace with each other."

Coun. Anwar said it was very important for people to gather together to show compassion and solidarity, and said he was very pleased to see so many people from across the town coming together "representing our diversity and commitment to equality and justice."

Neil Hart said Burnley FC In the Community would continue to invest in community cohesion.

Coun. Townsend said: "Burnley is united to stand against terrorists who seek to create discord in our way of life. It is incumbent on all of us to fight against, dispel and challenge racism and hate wherever we come across them, there is no room in Burnley for them."

Coun. Bea Foster said: "In solidarity with the people of New Zealand, in the wake of the horrific attack and killings on mosques, over 100 people of all ages, all backgrounds and cultures gathered at the peace Garden in Burnley. The vigil was indeed a very moving event which touched everyone there."