By Lisa Favazzo
A vigil was held in Melbourne on Monday the 18th of March to remember the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack.
A crowd of thousands gathered in front of the State Library of Victoria for almost three hours partaking in multi-faith prayer, watching an impromptu Haka and hearing passionate speeches from politicians.
Greens Party Leader Richard Di Natale said politicians spreading “hate and diversion” contribute to the rise of right-wing extremism.
“When you give hate a platform, you feed this hate,” Mr Di Natale said. A handful of audience members were brought to tears.
Vice President of the Islamic Council Victoria Adel Salamamn said the media has a role to play in not giving a platform to “hate, Islamophobia and extremism”.
“Free speech is important but not all speech is equal,” he said.
The crowd roared in support.
Melbourne has suffered at the hands of terrorism a number of times in the past few years, including a violent stabbing on Bourke Street less than 6 months ago.
The Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp used the opportunity to reflect on her city’s relationship with terror.
“We too have suffered from the unacceptable crime of hate and extremism,” she said.
“But, times of terror can be soothed by an outpouring of care, affection and empathy”.
An Islamic prayer for the dead concluded the night. Non-Muslim attendees bowed their heads in support. Many appeared to be joining in with their own silent prayers.