Simple gesture with great significance

Simple gesture with great significance

Muslims at Friday prayer © Jens Schulze

After the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, the diocese of Limburg has launched an initiative for practical solidarity with Muslims. It's about showing empathy and togetherness, he said.

Under the motto "Friday's for prayer – visit your Muslim neighbors!"Frank van der Velden, the diocesan commissioner for Islamic affairs, called on fellow Muslims to attend Friday prayers at their mosque. "Not much has to happen in the process, except that we show empathy and convey to our neighbors that they are not alone," the theologian said Wednesday, explaining his idea.

A simple gesture – beyond any political statements – can have great meaning for people who care, it said. The safety of all worshippers in synagogues, churches, mosques and other religious sites must be sacrosanct, he stressed.

The call "Friday's for prayer" (Eng.Friday's for prayer" is reminiscent of the "Fridays for Future" campaign, in which students demonstrate on Fridays for more climate protection.

Role model: Muslims in the Orient

Van der Velden says he lived in the Orient for about 20 years. Whenever there have been attacks on Coptic Christians there, he was impressed by the fact that Muslim neighbors always visited the Christian communities, he told the Catholic News Agency (KNA). This self-evident neighborly solidarity should conversely also be possible in Germany, says the diocese's Islam officer.

The "Round Table of Religions in Germany," of which Limburg Bishop Georg Batzing is a member, earlier expressed horror at the attack in New Zealand, "to which so many people in mosques – our Muslim sisters and brothers – have fallen victim.

The human dignity and the integrity of life, which is sacred to us in the religions, was violated here in the most terrible way. We mourn with the people of New Zealand for the victims and express our deepest sympathy," the joint statement reads.

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