A somber night to honor the victims in New Zealand

CSRA News

The Aiken Unitarian Universalist Church held a service to tribute those killed in the New Zealand massacre.

Members say this was their opportunity to educate the community about different religions. Their message was simple, treat all people with love and respect no matter their religion.

“Even if you disagree with it, you don’t necessarily hate it,” said Islamic Augusta Imam, Jawad Rasual. “So we need to fight hate with education. And That’s how we can turn that hate into love.”

Dozens of people packed the church to pay their respect to the 50 people who were killed in the mosque shooting in New Zealand.

People who attended the memorial say they were shocked when they heard the news.

“My heart was racing as to how cold-hearted this person is,” explained Rasual.

“Every time I hear something like this, it’s like someone punched me in the gut,” said Rev. Debra Guthrie.

Rev. Guthrie says she wanted to host a memorial for those people killed while encouraging the people of Aiken to love all religions. 

“To convince yourself to love, and don’t look for any evidence that you can to hold it against another person,” said Guthrie.

Guthrie says she’s reached out to the Muslim community, and the shooting will not stop them from what they believe in. 

“If we become the next bodies on the line or the next victims; so be it but we are going to keeping standing up for love,” said Guthrie.

The Imam for Islamic Augusta says this tragedy is bringing people together from different nationalities and religions.

“The mission this shooter had has failed,” expressed Rasual. “He wanted to divide people, but he is actually uniting the people.”

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