Lismore Isaac Smith
Lismore Isaac Smith

Islamophobia not OK

LAST week I spent some time in prayer with my Muslim brothers and sisters here in Lismore. It was a moving and challenging time, following the horrible events in NZ. As a person of faith myself, I was proud to be amongst such strong and faithful people.

And they were brave just being there. Every Muslim in Australia and New Zealand must be second guessing their safety when gathering together. We as a nation (NZ included) always thought we were immune to such acts of hatred and violence. But sadly we are not.

But this was not the bravest thing they did. The speaker during this service talked about the need for forgiveness. Not forgiveness in general, that's the easier option.

He spoke about forgiveness for the individual who carried out this horrible atrocity. Forgiveness for the politicians and others in Australia and New Zealand who support these acts of violence because they won't stand up to call them out. That takes courage. That is brave.

It was an honour to be amongst a group of people that were talking about peace and having a genuine love for forgiveness.

That should be a message to us all. We need to realise that all of us are broken, we all make mistakes. We can only stand up against hatred with love and grace.

There will be opportunities in the coming weeks and months where our community will have the option to stand with local Muslims.

We will gather as one to say that persecution, racism and Islamophobia is not OK. It is my firm belief that Lismore will stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters.

We will come together because our humanity, while containing the faults that divide us, holds a greater capacity to love.

So I know Lismore will join me in sharing that love with all in our city.