After New Zealand Mosque Massacre, Milwaukee Comes Together To Honor & Support

Mar 22, 2019

Community members and leaders turned out Thursday night to support the Muslim community in Milwaukee and worldwide. It was a vigil in response to the terror attack in New Zealand last week when a white supremacist gunned down 50 people at two mosques.

The vigil was held at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. It opened with 10th graders Obaid Grays and Samawia Akhter reading and translating from the Qur’an.

"In the name of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful. O you who believe, seek help through patience, perseverance and prayer. Indeed, God is with the patient," translates Akhter.

Those in attendance included community members, faith and advocacy leaders, and elected officials. And they all have their own reasons as to why it was important for them to be there.

Faith leaders gather on the stage during the vigil to honor those slain in the New Zealand mosques.
Credit Maayan Silver

"As a Muslim and as a human being, first and foremost, this kind of massacre that's happening in our world today, regardless of one's religion, but particular to one's religion, being slaughtered just because you believe a certain way, number one, it's just unacceptable," says Afriqah Imani of Milwaukee.

Koua Thao from New Berlin stands against hate. He's a member of St. Michael's Hmong Catholic Community. "It doesn't matter who you are, what kind of language you speak, we're all humans and if there's anything, we can always come together and talk about our differences instead of using violence."

Love must always win, says Rev. Christine Wilke, who serves New Horizon United Church of Christ in Kewaskum. "I'm here because I believe in religious freedom and I'm in solidarity with everyone, whatever religion they practice, or if they practice none," she says.

She really appreciates New Zealand's response to the attack, especially that of its Prime Minister.

"They skipped right over the thoughts and prayers part and went right into action — on gun laws, on how they're stepping in to bury and help the families, and the leadership that she's calling for to work against white nationalism, not just in New Zealand but everywhere," adds Wilke.

Rachel Muchin Young, who's Jewish and from Menomonee Falls, shares those sentiments. "My reaction to what happened is horror. My reaction to how the New Zealand government responded is awe."

She says what happened in Christchurch should affect everyone.

"There's more that we hold in common than separates us, and we need to be here for our brethren," says Muchin Young.