More than 150 people of any or no religion and of every age came together in front of the mosque in Lincoln to show their support to Lincoln’s Muslim community and to take a stance against hate crime, racism and terrorism on Friday.
19-year-old University of Lincoln student Amber Marshall organised the We Stand Together event to remember the victims of the mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques in New Zealand last Friday that killed 50 people.
The terror attack frightened the local Muslim community, so the Chairman of the Islamic Association of Lincoln Dr Tanweer Ahmed asked for more security during their Friday prayers.
“People should not have to be frightened to pray and practice their religion in peace,” says Amber. To show solidarity, she created a Facebook event in hope a handful of people might join her. What started as a small social media event, quickly generated a larger response had expected.
The vigil started at 11 o’ clock but a lot of people arrived about half an hour earlier at the Central Mosque.
Amber drew the signs herself together with other volunteers in a poster making event at Mansions of The Future on St Mary’s Street in Lincoln the evening before the vigil. “They let me use the free space in exchange for some volunteer work,” said Amber. She still had posters and colourful pens from the university’s Student Union elections.
The student also read a poem that she wrote for the occasion “We stand here today, we stand here united”.
Amber Marshall is known for her community involvement. In November 2018 she created the popular Facebook group called Lincoln Girl Gang Chat that allows women in Lincoln to get together so they do not have to walk home alone. The group currently has 3.1k members.
As time passed more and more people came until there were more than 150 people — adults, students, pensioners, Muslims, Jews, Christians, English, Germans, Africans, atheists and children.
A lot of people brought their children with them. “I want the kids to see the diversity our community consist of. So they learn that we are all one community no matter which religion or skin colour we have.
“My son has down syndrome and we are here, so we can show him what the emotions of happiness, gratitude and support are,” says a Lincoln mother.
Most of the participants had heard about the event through BBC Lincolnshire radio or social media. They brought flowers and self-drawn signs with them. Overwhelmed by the support, Vice Chairman of the Islamic Association of Lincoln, Dr Salman Rabbani offered hot tea, coffee and snacks to the participants.
At midday the Muslim community invited everyone to listen to their prayers.