CEO message: We will not be divided

March 21, 2019

On behalf of all CMY staff and the CMY Board I would like to express our deep regret and remorse at learning of the tragedy that occurred last Friday at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and the senseless loss of 50 innocent lives. Further, we condemn all forms of white supremacy statements and ideology and Islamophobia that has fuelled this terrorist act. CMY is committed to multiculturalism and interfaith inclusion and harmony.

We stand in solidarity with our Muslim colleagues and friends, the broader community, and everyone impacted – both directly and indirectly – by this devastating attack on humanity. We will remember the victims and their stories, many of whom had settled in New Zealand to build better lives for themselves and their families; and we acknowledge the enormity of the loss their families and communities must be experiencing.

In the aftermath of such horrific events, we go through the full range of emotions: sadness, grief, shock, anger and helplessness. As we look on from across the Tasman Sea, there is a greater need than ever to channel these emotions into action, and do more than just offer our sympathy. We all have a responsibility to reject the kind of divisive rhetoric, in both the public and political sphere, that has ultimately led to this. Wherever we are, we need to listen and learn from the experiences of marginalised communities, and we must stand up and speak out when confronted with hateful and discriminatory attacks on members of our communities.

Earlier this week, as a team we gathered to reflect and pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Christchurch Mosques last Friday. We were joined by Chair of our Board, Hass Dellal, who is also the Chair of SBS as well as the Islamic Museum of Australia. Hass reflected on the incredible outpouring of support from thousands of Victorians of all faiths at the Victorian Mosque Open Day, held last Sunday. He spoke of drawing strength from this; that it is always in the aftermath of the most devastating circumstances, that the true essence of our humanity is revealed. The work of CMY, and that of many other like-minded organisations, is more important than ever in breaking down barriers and promoting social cohesion.

One of our Youth Leadership team members, Mohammed Yassin, shared his personal reflections in the wake of Christchurch. I could not have expressed it any more eloquently than he did, when he said:

“Because to me hate and prejudice towards the other has no religion, and when it is given enough energy, support and momentum, it will turn into a destructive force tearing communities apart and inflicting absolute terror.”

You can read Mohammed’s reflection in full here.

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the theme for 2019 is “mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies”. It acknowledges the spread of racist extremist movements in various parts of the world, which is fuelling racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, often targeting migrants and refugees.

We see the impacts of this on many of the young people we work with and today, like every day, we continue to do our bit to fight for a future where hate and intolerance are drowned out by love and respect.

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