LEWISTON — Amina Bashir, a third-grader from Auburn, told a crowd Sunday afternoon at Kennedy Park she never wants a terror attack like the one that killed 50 in Christchurch, New Zealand, to happen again.

“It’s not fair that people are killing anyone who is different from them,” she said. “Yes, I’m black, I’m Muslim and I’m American. And I want the world in peace so we don’t attack people.

“I don’t want what happened at the mosques to happen again. Even if I’m a kid, it doesn’t mean I can’t change the world.”

That sentiment was echoed by politicians, faith leaders and community activists who gathered to condemn the devastating terror attacks Friday at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The white gunman killed mostly Muslim worshippers who had gathered in prayer.

“This terrorist, who killed 50 people, had a manifesto that contained white nationalist ideas and hate for Muslim people,” said Deqa Dhalac, a member of the South Portland City Council. “We are here again mourning another hateful mass shooting. I’m filled with sadness in grief over this terrorist attack on innocent people.”

Gov. Janet Mills said people worldwide must come together to condemn acts of racially and religiously motivated violence.

“Today, with misty eyes, clear minds and heavy hearts, we mourn the lives lost in New Zealand in another devastating act of white supremacy by extremists,” Mills said. “When the ugliness of this world grows too great to bear, the bitterness of hate would make us shrink away from one another in fear and in doubt. We must look to the angels among us.”

The governor said it is vitally important to call out bigotry and hatred in all their forms.

“Call out a casual remark among friends as readily as we would a social media post. Let’s not remain quiet,” Mills said.

“When you hear words of bigotry and hate, stand up to that. Speak out against it as we learn to disagree with each other without dehumanizing each other – without frustration, anger and hatred.”

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling said that 15 years ago, when the Ku Klux Klan distributed literature in Lewiston, thousands stood together to condemn intolerance. Strimling said the public is standing again to condemn hatred.

“We know better in the state of Maine about the importance of diversity and the importance of immigration,” he said. “Probably what I am most proud of is how we do stand up and say we do not tolerate intolerance every time it occurs.”

Dhalac said Muslims around the world will gather later this week for Friday prayers. Despite the enormity of the loss, Muslims will not give in to fear.

“We will not be afraid to go to the mosque,” Dhalac said. “These folks are trying to stop us from exercising our right for religion. So please, go and pray.

“I am asking my non-Muslim brothers and sisters to stand with us in solidarity, and support us with your love and strong words to condemn white supremacy and Islamophobia.”

Naomi Mayer of Portland represented March Forth, a social justice group based in Portland. She expressed dismay at the killings.

“Fifty people (gathered) where they thought they were safe? How would you like it if you were having a party with your friends, and someone came in and killed all of you?” she said.

“From your home, where you thought you were safe? If every human being doesn’t stand up and fight back, then I wonder where the hope is.”

But for student and Lewiston resident Ahmed Sheikh, the outpouring of community support provided reason for hope.

“It’s really touching to see how people can come together in such a short amount of time,” Sheikh said. “It shows how far we’ve come as a community. I’ve been here for 15 years, and this is amazing.”


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