Following the horrific Christchurch mosques’ tragedy, Al Siraat College in Epping (Victoria) held a special assembly on the morning of Monday 18 March for their school community as well as the broader community.

The event was attended by Mayor Lawrie Cox, MP Lily D’Ambrosio, Nik Cagorski representing Federal member for Scullin Andrew Giles, Inspector Craig Spencer, representatives from Whittlesea Interfaith Network and several other members from local community groups.

Inspector Craig Spencer explained that “…it’s important to note that the emergency service workers, the police, the ambulance and the army all felt your pain. I was advised today that there are some family members that were affected from the Al Siraat College community and some relatives that’ve been unfortunately very seriously injured. My condolences are with those people and I hope they make a speedy recovery.”

MP Lily D’ambrosio, MP Bronwyn Halfpenny, Mayor Lawrie Cox, Nik Cagorski representing Federal member Andrew Giles & College Principal Fazeel Arain

Inspector Spencer encouraged young people to talk about how they’re feeling, not to bottle it up inside and highlighted the importance of reaching out to family and community during this time. He reassured the parents of the added security measures in place for AlSiraat College.

Mayor Lawrie Cox and Nik Cagorski each made sincere statements in support of the Muslim community.

MP Lily D’Ambrosio made a very sincere and moving statement in saying “I share in and acknowledge the pain that has been brought upon all of you from the events on Friday. In the coming days and months, I commit to you to making very strong public statements in support of you as valued members of this community. I value you as I know you value being members of this community and I think it is incumbent on all of us to say that, to share those feelings and sentiments and know that together we will overcome these tragedies.”

Mufti Aasim Rashid addressing Muslim youth

Mufti Aasim addressed the youth urging them to use this opportunity to speak up saying, “the tragedy that happened on Friday is not representative of any race or faith. This type of behaviour is representative of a very twisted mindset that is cultured and fed over a period of time until the person reaches such an extreme that they end up losing themselves as a human being in the process.”

“These acts are committed to divide people. But you will see in the aftermath the whole world is with us, they are supporting us. Their sympathies are with us. Their condolences are with us. Right now the whole world is your audience. If you have something sensible and logical to say they will listen to you. But if you respond with similar talks like the people who perpetrated those acts then it means you’re no better than them. So talk to people, go on platforms where your voice is heard, speak up, share your story.”

 

Following the assembly, one parent commented, “The support and solidarity we’ve received from the local community this weekend has just been overwhelming. So many messages of love and empathy. We’re all brothers and sisters in humanity. We have to stand together against division and hate.”