The aftermath of the Friday terror attack targeting New Zealand Muslims that left 49 dead has shown some of the world’s deepest divisions. One man in the United Kingdom this past week showed himself as firmly on the side of the persecuted, showing up outside his local mosque with a sign that said he would “keep watch” while worshipers prayed.
Andrew Graystone, who runs a local Christian charity and has gone viral in the time since his show of support, commented:
‘There are two ways you can respond to an attack like this — you can respond with fear or you can respond with friendship… There are little things that lots of people can do to just express friendship rather than fear with Muslim friends, and neighbors and colleagues — so I just took one little action.’
He added that he never meant to go viral, and told BBC that he was “surprised” when he attracted such wide attention. When service attendees at the Medina Mosque got close enough to see his sign, Graystone said that “their faces broke and they beamed and smiled.”
This man outside Levenshulme mosque has been me cry. You’re a good un fella ❤️ pic.twitter.com/94cfxjz2nR
— Whatsoever (@hey_whatsoever) March 15, 2019
There have been similar viral moments of support for the global Muslim community elsewhere, like at a Sunderland, U.K., mosque where a man showed up with a sign featuring an arrow pointing towards his face and reading:
‘This Christian stands against racism and violence towards all Muslims’
— Firdaus Nazeri (@firdausnazeri93) March 15, 2019
In another widely shared moment of post-attack solidarity, Toronto police officers sought the imam at their local mosque to ask if they were feeling safe and if there was anything they could do to help, ending up sticking around outside to help keep watch.
Two police officers just walked into the Toronto Mosque and asked to the see the Imam.
They, then, proceeded to question him.
“Are you feeling safe?”
“Are you okay?”
“Can we do anything to help?”#ChristchurchAttack #ChristchurchMosqueAttack pic.twitter.com/ZbNBiieCa9
— Kamil Karamali (@KamilKaramali) March 15, 2019
In the immediate aftermath of the initial attacks, New Zealand authorities had suggested people stay away from mosques as the scope of the operation came more into focus. Across the city of Christchurch, an Australian, far-right attacker named Brenton Tarrant claimed the lives of 49 people, most of whom perished at a pair of the city’s mosques. Although there were initial reports suggesting multiple shooters, he turns out to have acted alone, tying his actions squarely to internet bursts of white nationalism via his manifesto.
On the opposite side of the spectrum from the responses of solidarity referenced above, a number of prominent figures across the globe have pushed virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric in the time since the Christchurch attack. Australian Senator Fraser Anning, for instance, asserted that responsibility for the attack rested as much with the immigration of supposed Muslim “fanatics” to the area as the shooter — and ended up with an egg smashed on his head in protest at a Saturday press conference. He responded by trying to get in a fist fight with the teenage protester responsible, and his goons eventually harassed the kid to the ground before police intervened.
While less direct, within 24 hours of the incident, President Donald Trump was back to claiming that undocumented immigration into the U.S. constitutes an “invasion.” That’s the exact same language Tarrant used in his manifesto to justify his claims of a “white genocide” necessitating violent action like Trump has at times approved of.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot