LOVE NOT HATE: Candle light memorial attendee Ben Pie at Gatakers Bay to pay his respects to the victims of the New Zealand terror attack last week.
LOVE NOT HATE: Candle light memorial attendee Ben Pie at Gatakers Bay to pay his respects to the victims of the New Zealand terror attack last week. Jessica Lamb

Lighting a candle to combat tragedy with solidarity

WHEN New Zealand expat Myles Symons first heard about the devastating attack in his homeland last week, he wanted to respond with love, not hate.

Not only did he reach out to Hervey Bay's Muslim community to learn about their beliefs, he has also organised a candle light vigil tonight at 6.30pm at Gatakers Bay in Point Vernon.

Mr Symons said he was deeply affected by the shooting murders of 50 people inside Christchurch mosques.

"I felt there were other people who were struggling with having a place to express themselves with solidarity and condolences," he said.

"I met with some of the local Muslim leaders and (on Monday) I spent about an hour with a local Muslim chatting about what he believes.

"I absolutely recommend reaching out.

"I think if people sat down and actually gave time to understand what people of the Muslim faith believe, it would alleviate a lot of fear they have which causes events like the massacre."

Mr Symons said he wanted the Kiwi community on the Fraser Coast to have a chance to express themselves after the tragedy.

"One of the main reasons for the event is because not only has the Muslim community lost family and loved ones but New Zealand as a country has lost something," he said.

"Before people were Christian, Muslim, Kiwi or Aussie, they were human first and the reason people will turn up is not because they are politically or religiously charged - it is because they are compassionate towards other humans.

"I do understand there are people who hold different views, I'm not about to argue with them, I'm all for open discussion and trying to understand people and where they form those beliefs from."

The event will run for about half an hour and attendees are encouraged to bring a candle or picnic blanket, and are welcome to share words or a prayer with the group.

At 7.30pm a group from the memorial including Mr Symons and Red Dirt church members will travel to a mosque in Hervey Bay greet them after their evening prayers.



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