Vigil for the victims of New Zealand attack

Sometimes you feel helpless when bad things happen thousands of miles away. I felt I needed to show solidarity with those who are suffering.

In the days after the Christchurch killings I felt utterly helpless. In the past when I have seen such suffering I have been able to help by sending to money to those who need it. This time is different as how can you let people know that these people are not alone and we won’t sit silently allowing such hate and evil go unnoticed.

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I follow a north east group which protests against racism and those who chose to stir up hatred within the entire country. They felt it was necessary to hold a vigil for the people who have survived the massacre in New Zealand.

It was amazing to see so many gather in St Nicolas’s Cathedral, Newcastle. It isn’t surprising but very sad at the same time that we have witnesses the rise of hate-related incidents in this country and it parts of the world. People’s inability to leave in a harmonious way has led us into some terrible times.

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The rise in social media and people sharing unsavoury views about certain groups has led some in our society to have views which I think are plainly warped. Their views about the Muslim community has been distorted by those who have played a dangerous divisive game for years. Spreading lies and mistruths for their own agenda.

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Thank goodness now the social media companies have started to crack down on those who spread hate. The main ones have put the brakes on those who spread hatred. They have decried their so-called action as attempt to ‘silence’ and ‘censor’ them. This only plays into the hands of the supporters as it gets them angry even though there are thousands of other ways in which hatred can be spread throughout the world.

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The evening was a peaceful reflection where there were members representing a number of faiths, including those from the Jewish and Roma communities, came together as one. As someone with no faith I still strongly believe in standing shoulder to shoulder with those in a minority who had suffered in such a way.

Dipu Ahad is a Labour councillor in Newcastle and was the person who introduced some people to speak about the attack in New Zealand. It was heart-warming to hear of the generosity of those who had reached out to the community on the other side of the world. As I said at the beginning of this post I certainly felt helpless at being unable to share my sympathies with those who were hurting but after this evenings vigil I felt I was able to give my support to the victims of hate and violence.

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New Zealand Mosque Attack

My heartfelt sympathies go out to the friends and family of this despicable crime. New Zealand and other decent countries deserve better than this awful tragedy. 

I watched carefully the response of people from all side of the political spectrum. It was incredible to see the wonderful response of the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden.

These sort of crimes could happen anywhere in the world. The fact that it happened in New Zealand was appalling as they had been immune to terrorism on the scale that has been seen other countries around the world.

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The different between other terrorist attacks was that it was carried out by a white supremacist someone who believed that his race is better than others and those people who were killed somehow deserved it.

Like others who have murdered in the name of an ideology the terrorist had to be radicalised a word that is often used to describe the process of someone turning from a normal human being into a cold mass murdering killer. I wrote a blog post in 2017 about how people become radicalised into becoming terrorists and it is often a long process that has taken place over time where people will look for answers to complex problems.

People will want to know the reason why the terrorist did what did and why he thought carrying out such an atrocity was the right thing to do. He will try to promote his cause in court and claim his a soldier in some sort of war. We often put ourselves in the position of the person carrying out the crime and wonder how and why they could carry out something so despicable.

These sort of actions don’t happen over night they aren drip-fed through media, television and news outlets that often portray immigrant communities in a negative light. We know there are bad people in all races not all are perfect we all have problems to contend with whether it is illegal drug trades, knife crime or domestic violence. Each community has its own share of problems.

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Just as the Islamic community now is being blamed for terrorist groups like Isis people believe in conspiracy theories repeating by far right agitators like Tommy Robinson. These sort of conspiracies are extremely dangerous. At the turn of the 20th century there was a publication printed called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In it was the ideas that somehow the Jewish people should be regarded with suspicion as they were seen as some sort of threat to world order and that they were the ones who wanted to over all control and domination.

The same lies is being spread by those on the far-right and those who choose to demonise all immigrants as bad people. This is how people like the terrorist become radicalised in the first place.

I always like to think I am a free-thinker. I am a humanist. I don’t believe in god but I do believe religion and political ideologies can have a strong influence on someones beliefs, and actions. Sometimes those actions have catastrophic consequences.

I want a life with compassion, hope, love, justice and hopefully peace.

 

 

A review of 2018

It’s been a very odd year things have happened I never thought would happened and I am getting closer to having a normal life. I look back on 2018.

At the beginning of the year I visited Newcastle Central Mosque as part of a national campaign for people to visit their local mosque to learn more about Islam and to dispel the myths and lies that often heard about Muslims in this country and around the world. I am really looking forward to visiting again in 2019 and receiving the same warm welcome I was given at the start of the year.

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Not only did I visit a mosque a made time to visit a recently open Buddhist centre again in Newcastle. It was a really interesting time talking to people about their beliefs. I was amazed that there is a thriving Buddhist community in the north east. Wonderful to see that they had raised so much money and completed the renovation of an old shop on Westgate Road.

Not only was I to visit in Newcastle but I stumbled across a cafe in Chester-le-Street where people were serving food that would have been destroyed. Refuse Cafe takes that food and with having no set price you pay what you think the meal is worth and donate. A way to use the surplus food that is often discarded by large companies. Cutting the waste that we produce.

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I started a Chester-le-Street facebook group which basically post local news all to so with the town. It was in response to a local free newspaper no longer distributing around the town but being on sale instead in local newsagents. I combined the facebook site with the twitter account @lovechesta I acquired in the early part of the year. It has gone fairly well in my opinion we have about 1400 followers so far and slowly that number is increasing.

I continued by speaking out on the likes of Tommy Robinson and his band of hideous followers as Brexit deadline looms their obvious attempts to capitalise on this event and persuade people to become anti-islam still exists in this country. As long as I am still breathing I won’t let him win.

I got closer and closer to becoming employed this year much better than the previous year and how the world of work has changed so much in the years leading up to this time. More and more people chasing posts and the competition has become harder by employers expecting much more.

I wanted to trying a write more and my pathetic non-exist attempt at painting still remains to be resuscitated. It lies dormant and unused. Let’s hope 2019 is the year I finally pull my finger out and do something about it.

My health took a serious turn at the beginning of December as most of the people who know me read about; it ended up a couple of days of hospital and then weeks of recovery. It’s in these moments that you realise that people do care and those that have decided the no longer wish to be a part of my life have given little or no response to what has taken place. I am blessed that I have friends that are genuine who I have know for over thirty years. Life isn’t all plain sailing and those who cannot cope with a storm have no place in my life.

So I am making progress on the job front made changes to my lifestyle and looking forward to seeing what the new year brings.

Visit my Mosque

Over 200 Mosques across the UK opened their doors on the 18th February 2018. The theme this year was Open Doors, Open Mosques, Open Communities

I certainly felt a warm welcome, not only from the people at the desk signing you in but from all people who were involved in the open day. People were willing to answer questions you had about the everyday running of the Mosque to the plans for the future of the building.

The whole area is currently undergoing a huge building project where the Mosque – which looks unlike any other I have seen – will be built. It will certainly be a fitting sight and with a modern appearance be an asset to those living in the west end of Newcastle.

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I had the privilege to see the plans for the new mosque it’s to be one of the greenest and ecologically sound constructions built in modern Newcastle. Its general theme seems to coincide with nature and inspires people to connect with the rich resources that the earth provides.

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I spent some time talking to some of the women of Mosque about their appearance and dress and how it was important to their own religious belief. There are a lot of misconceptions and general ignorance when it comes to how women in Islam present themselves.

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My view is where do you get your information from regarding Islam? Do you read the headlines that demean and misinform? Or do you go to the people who live, breathe and work for the religion?

I wouldn’t rely on the Beano to inform me of the British way of life. I wouldn’t ask right-wing groups on their opinion of Islam and other religions. I would ask the people who represent it.

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As I said to the people in the Mosque religious education in the UK has been abysmal for decades. Once people were schooled in religion and the knowledge of Christianity. Even that seems to be pitiful and lacking in certain parts of the education system. Always maligned and ridiculed as unnecessary for future life beyond the walls of school. I think its probably one of the most important subjects, especially for these times where lies have been planted into people.