OUR thoughts and prayers are with the 49 people who have been killed, and dozens more who have been injured, after a gunman opened fire at mosques in New Zealand during Friday prayers.
The attack has been described as the worst such act of violent terror to have been committed on the shores of New Zealand, and will undoubtedly change the lives of those who have been directly affected by it, and those from wider communities, for ever.
It is not yet known how many shooters there were, but one gunman is believed to be an Australian who has written a manifesto outlining his intentions.
The gunman who brutally murdered innocent worshippers in the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, wanted to spread hatred and fear. Innocent people have been killed in cold blood but we will not let terrorists, Islamophobes and vile opportunists succeed. We must stand together to drown out extremism and hatred with hope and unity.
Muslims are deeply concerned and anxious about growing levels of Islamophobia across the world. Every one of us must not only repudiate hatred and the demonisation of Muslims, immigrants and minority groups with our words, but also our actions. The threat from the Far Right extremists is real and we must realise the threat they pose to our society. Hatred of any community creates a downward spiral of violence and terror, which affects all in a society.
I urge Muslims to remain calm and extra vigilant in this extremely distressing and nerve-wracking time. I will continue to work with our authorities to protect all of our communities against the growing threat posed by extremist, far-right, violent terrorism.
I have been personally reassured by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid that British government stands with Muslims against all forms of racism and anti-Muslim hatred.
British mosques will hold special services during Friday Prayers in memory of those affected by the terrorist shootings in New Zealand and to reassure their communities. We will be praying for not only the grieving families of the merciless massacre but also for peace and compassion in our increasingly polarised world.
I welcome statements of reassurance from our political, faith and civic leaders and condemnation of these violent attacks, and their underlying messages of unity and solidarity with the communities that have been directly affected.
British Muslims, mosques and Islamic centres must continue to support each other and also work with police, local authorities and other relevant organisations to ensure that such vile attacks do not happen in Britain.
Qari Asim is a Leeds imam. He is chair of Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board and a trustee of Hope not Hate and British Future.