On Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of attending an inter-faith service following the Sydney siege, organised by Suresh Rajan at Wesley church in Perth.
The service was attended by a number of Perth's religious leaders, as well as the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, Mike Nahan. Also in the crowd were members of the Western Australian Police Force and people of all cultures, nationalities, walks of life and religions. The service begun with an Acknowledgement of Country, before a speaker representing the WA Muslim community took to the microphone. He was followed by speakers from the Anglican and Uniting Churches, as well as Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh and Baha'i community leaders, all expressing the need for Australians to remain strong and remain as one, rather than try to distance others from ourselves.
Mike Nahan, who also fills the role of WA's Treasurer, spoke at the event on behalf of the Western Australian government, reiterating what the other speakers had said; that we must all remain strong, and try to avoid create divides within society. He also expressed his support of the #illridewithyou campaign which was born out of the fear that some Muslim's had of riding public transport while wearing their religious garments. Since Monday afternoon, thousands of people have showed their support for the campaign, not just in Sydney, but all over the world.
Once the service had concluded, a group of people began assembling a display of candles at the front of the church, featuring the words "Love" and "Peace" alongside a peace sign and two love hearts. The unity of Australia was demonstrated as crowds gathered to watch the candles being lit, with complete strangers discusssing the events of the previous days, helping each other to get through a tough time for the entire country.
Seeing over 200 people from all different walks of life gave hope to all those present that Australia would not be reduced to a country of racism and intolerance, instead showing that Australians would support everyone in their time of need, knowing that one day, their kindness would be returned to them.
Sorry for the quality of the images. I was unable to bring my camera, so I had to use my phone.