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Sunday vigil planned for New Zealand terror victims


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, March 16, 2019

As police patrolled the area around their mosque, members of Greenville’s Muslim community prayed for the dozens killed and injured in a terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand.

In addition to their prayers, members of Greenville’s Islamic Center and Mosque decided to hold a vigil at 6 p.m. on Sunday at the mosque, 1303 S. Evans St.

“By showing support with other faiths we can show this type of terrorist activity won’t be tolerated,” said Samar Badwan, a spokeswoman for the mosque. “And one act of terrorism by one individual won’t cause the entire world, the entire of humanity from supporting each other and from stop (them from) loving each other,” she said.

Greenville residents and most of the nation awoke on Friday to news that at least 49 people were killed and an untold number injured in an attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The shooter wore a body camera and broadcast the shooting live on Facebook. One man has been arrested, and as of 5 p.m. on Friday, two others were in custody.

New Zealand police urged the country’s Muslim population to not go to any mosques.

Badwan said a local minister — who is recovery from recent surgery — called her early Friday with a pledge to stand outside the mosque’s doors to protect them and show support. She also received calls from a Jewish center in New Bern and Rabbi Harley Karz-Wagman of Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville.

Friday is when Jummah, a congregational prayer, is given and it is when most Muslims gather at the mosque to pray, Badwan said.

“Some of our members are fearful and they wanted extra support, which the members of the Greenville Police Department graciously provided,” she said.

A police presence also will be seen at Sunday’s vigil.

“This will not dictate how we live our life. We have support from the Greenville community and we have received many calls and messages of support,” Badwan said. “We will continue on a weekly basis to continue our services uninterrupted.”

Scheduled speakers at Sunday’s vigil include Pitt County Sheriff Paula Dance, Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman, Rabbi Harley Karz-Wagman and other members of the interfaith community, Badwan said.

“We denounced any type of violence against anyone,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where the location is. This type of terrorist activity is reprehensible and it is horrific and it is horrendous and we as a community, as a nation, as a world will not accept it.”

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.