KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — Ministers, MPs and religious leaders of all faiths came together in support of peace, following the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand last week.
Organised by the Prime Minister’s Department and the Department of National Unity and Integrity, the #Solidarity4Peace began in front of the SOGO Shopping Centre at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, from 7am onwards.
A crowd of 500 gathered, calling out slogans including ‘Reject Extremism’ and ‘Love Peace’, before heading to Dataran Merdeka at 7.35am.
By the time they reached Dataran Merdeka, the crowd had swelled to almost 1,000. Parents with their little children could be seen, as well as others from all walks of life.
Many held up placards, mostly in Bahasa but also in other languages, saying ‘Respect’, ‘World Without Terrorism’, ‘Peace, No Wars’, ‘Reject Hatred’, ‘Reject Racism’, among others.
As the leaders of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism spoke and appealed to the audience to always uphold peace and harmony in the country, three helicopters flew above the Dataran bearing three flags, with the Jalur Gemilang at the forefront.
Several political leaders also spoke, including Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, and Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad, who called upon the crowd to not let Muslims become spreaders of hate in response to the shootings.
“Let Malaysia be a beacon of peace and harmony. He (the shooter) wanted us to war against one another, let us deny him this,” he said to loud applause.
National Unity Minister Senator P. Waytha Moorthy said the mosque shootings show how one incident can destroy peace in a country like New Zealand.
“We are all committed to the path of peace, all faiths teach us to love our fellow human beings. May it always prevail in our country,” he said.
The aunt of teenager Mohd Haziq Mohd Tarmizi who perished in one of the mosque shootings, Zarina Shuib, 53, also thanked the audience for supporting her family during this difficult time.
“We are greatly touched by everyone’s kindness towards us. Though this is a great test to bear by God, it shows that Malaysians all love peace and harmony,” she said tearfully.
New Zealand’s High Commissioner-Designate to Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam Hunter Nottage also spoke, occasionally breaking into Bahasa as he extended his condolences to the Malaysian people over this tragedy.
“This has been very moving for everyone, and is a time of great reflection for us.
“We were deeply saddened by this terrorist attack, and our thoughts are very much with the victims, who sadly included Malaysians,” he said.
Australian High Commissioner Andrew Goledzinowski spoke after Nottage, saying that the shooter Brenton Tarrant has ‘failed spectacularly’ in trying to spread terror and discord in society.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa said Malaysia chooses the path of peace, and will show it to the world.
“To New Zealand and its prime minister, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
“We are above and beyond those who hate among human beings. Our message is peace to everyone,” he said.
Mujahid also read out the KL Peace Declaration 2019, with affirmed five points.
“Condemning any discrimination, violence and killing in the name or religion or ethnicity, total rejection of acts and culture based on hatred.
“Supporting all efforts to foster peace and promote harmony among all religions and ethnicities, defending Malaysia’s sovereignty from being destroyed by agents of racial and religious hatred, and to be in solidarity with the world’s citizens to develop an environment of peace and prosperity,” he said.