Henrico service honors New Zealand mosque victims: ‘Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that’

HENRICO COUNTY, Va., -- Worshipers of multiple faiths assembled at the Islamic Center of Henrico to pray for peace after a terrorist attack halfway around the world.

Muslim leaders called for special prayer services at the Impala Drive mosque at 7 p.m. Friday in the wake of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.

At least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand Friday, in a carefully planned and unprecedented attack that has shocked the usually peaceful nation.

Zulfi Kahn, a community activist, led the local service after a prayer session attended by members of the public as well as lawmakers, including Rep. Abigail Spanberger.

"Although it is all the way on the other side of the world it touches your heart as if it was next door," Kahn stated. "It is hurting us that there’s such a hatred in this world."

Various faiths coming together after a tragedy is not unusual in Central Virginia.

In October, members of the Metro Richmond Muslim community also stood with mourners at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center after an attack at a Pittsburg synagogue.

A representative from Virginia Senator Mark Warner's office read a letter condemning the New Zealand shooting.

"Today I stand with the Muslim community against the hateful ideology that is behind these attacks at places of worship. We must with one voice condemn the forces of hate and bigotry that seek to undermine our very freedom and way of life. We saw those same forces march in Charlottesville, we saw them in the attack in Pittsburgh and we saw them today in New Zealand," Warner said.

Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas cited his commonality with the Muslim community as the son of an immigrant living in America.

"Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that," said Vithoulkas reading a famous Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quote.

He added, "Our Henrico family, ladies and gentleman, is your Henrico family."

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