Our Neighbours, the Muslims

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Our local community here in Southwest Sydney has been rocked over the weekend with the news of what looks like another Islamic terror attack.

“It was a deliberate act yesterday it resulted in a person receiving extremely serious injuries.

As we understand of what happened yesterday, there was some degree of planning and preparation to something just before the incident happened.

We know that this person has strong extremist beliefs inspired by ISIS … But what made him act yesterday we don’t know.

It was deliberate, it was violent, his behaviour could have turned worse as well.”

I got a call from our local newspaper today asking for a comment. After chatting for a bit with the journalist I realised that what we really needed was a co-ordinated response from our local Anglican churches. So we issued the following release:

Local Anglican Ministers Respond to Minto Attack

Like the rest of our local community we were shocked and saddened to hear of the attack that occurred in Minto on Saturday.

We love the SouthWest of Sydney with its rich mix of people from all over the world. We know that the overwhelming majority of our Muslim neighbours want nothing more than to live peaceful lives, working together with everyone else to make Australia a great place to be. We want to wish all Muslims living in our local area a wonderful Eid al-Adha as they finish their celebrations today.

Our hearts go out to the victims of this attack and to our local community as they come to terms with what has happened. We stand together in urging everyone to defeat these actions by responding in the right way.

As Christians we look to the example of Jesus Christ. When He was cruelly murdered He responded by saying, “Father forgive them, because they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus taught us that the most powerful answer to wrongdoing is sacrificial love.

We are confident that our local community will rise to the challenge of reaching out in love and friendship to our Muslim neighbours at this difficult time for them and we urge everyone to play their part in making sure that good comes out of this terrible act.

A number of us will be visiting the local mosque today to pass this message on.

Rev. Nigel Fortescue, Campbelltown Anglican

Rev. Brett Hall, Rosemeadow Anglican

Rev. Chris Hanger, Minto Anglican

Rev. Craig Hooper, Eagle Vale Anglican

Rev. David Ould, Glenquarie Anglican

Rev. Nigel Webb, Denham Court Anglican

Rev. Joe Wiltshire, Ingleburn Anglican

Brett and I also went to visit the acting president of the local mosque, with whom we have a good relationship.

As Christians we have substantial differences with Muslims. We believe it is a false religion, and they believe the same thing of us (and we’ve had some great chats on that basis with local Muslim leaders and others). But they’re also our neighbours and so today was an opportunity to stress that and call on our wonderful local community to rise above the events of the weekend. Let’s each do our bit to extend the hand of friendship to our Muslim (and other neighbours).

And if we’re prone to complaining that some people don’t want to integrate, then perhaps a question to ask ourselves is just how much we’ve done to help integration happen?

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