TWO Invercargill services will be held on Sunday in remembrance of last year’s terror attack in Christchurch, which killed more than 50 people.
Southland Imam Reza Abdul-Jabbar was concerned the Southland Multicultural Council (SMC) was holding a similarly timed remembrance service dedicated to last year’s terror attack on Christchurch mosques.
“We are saddened by the fact the Multicultural Council is doing something on the same day.”
He said the Muslim community was not involved in any consultation but it had been clear in that their service would be held on the same afternoon, only a few hours apart.
He thought it was, to an extent, insensitive and it should be left to the Muslim community to organise.
“Knowing that it is on a day that we mourned our loss and grieved, and holding a service that is almost a contest.”
Everyone else had been supportive and had, “consulted in the proper manner”.
Members of the public were “absolutely” welcome to attend the service at the Fairview Ave, Invercargill, mosque at 7pm on Sunday that will bring us together. After all, it’s about unity and togetherness, love and humanity.”
It would be hosted by the Murihiku Islamic Trust and the Southland Muslim Association (SMA).
He said they would not have been opposed to a joint service and said, “we’d already said there would be something at 6pm, so join us, why make one that is controversial… we’ve had lots of phone calls from concerned people.”
There were at least 800 Southlanders in the Muslim community, several of whom he said would be upset by the situation.
“This is not one happy occasion, this is where we reflect, consolidate and really look deep into ourselves on how this last year has been and hope in this coming year we try to heal from this. This was the worst tragedy our nation has witnessed.”
SMC co-ordinator Meggy Bartlett-McBride said they were aware of each other’s events but Mr Abdul-Jabbar was not involved in conversations she had with the president of SMA.
“The purpose of the event is to gather people in support of what happened in the tragedy.”
She believed the mosque service was for its members only.
She said the SMC service would be held at the Southern Institute of Technology Hansen Hall on Sunday at 4pm.
There would be prayer and an afternoon tea.
Invercargill Deputy Mayor Toni Biddle said council had no official involvement in the organisation of either services taking place on Sunday.
“Elected members have been invited to attend Invercargill’s official service which will be held on Sunday the 15th of March at 7pm. This is run by the Murihiku Islamic Trust and will be held at the mosque. This service is open to public and I encourage our community to attend.”
She said it was an important time to come together to, “support our Islamic whanau, to support one another and, most importantly, to remember those taken from us on this tragic day, a year ago”.
“It is a shame there are multiple services being held on the same day. A year ago our country stood together as one. I believe we should remember those taken from us, together, as one.”