Christians and Muslims stand together to remember victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

(Photo: Diocese of Chichester/Jim Holden)

Christians stood side by side with Muslims on Friday as New Zealand remembered the victims of the mosque shootings a week ago.

In Christchurch, a two-minute silence was held in honour of the 50 people killed and the dozens more wounded in attacks on two mosques by a lone gunman.  

In the UK, the bishops of Chichester, Horsham and Lewes visited mosques in Crawley on Friday in an expression of support following the shootings.

The Bishop of Lewes, Richard Jackson, met with members of Langley Green Mosque while the Bishop of Horsham, Mark Sowerby, spent Friday at Noor Mosque.

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said his visit to Broadfield Mosque was an act of solidarity.

"I have come to this mosque in Crawley today to express, on behalf of the Christian Church in Sussex, our solidarity with you who are our Muslim brothers and sisters," he said. 

"We shared in the international shock and revulsion at the news of the shootings at the Friday Prayers in Christchurch one week ago. This was a cowardly attack on vulnerable people. It was a crime against humanity."

He added his concerns over reports that five mosques had been vandalised in Birmingham in the wake of the attacks.  The windows of the mosques were smashed during the early hours of Thursday morning. 

(Photo: Diocese of Chichester/Jim Holden)

Dr Warner said the incidents in Birmingham were "further evidence of a campaign that is evil in its origins, planning and consequences". 

In a statement to the Muslim community, he said: "We, as Christians, believe that the attacks in Christchurch and in Birmingham demonstrate a sacrilegious spirit in the world today.

"Like you, we are also people committed to religious faith. And we recognise that we have much in common, sharing our veneration of Abraham and deep traditions that promote the virtues of truth, of peace and of justice.

"But we are driven to condemn the desecration of your sacred places and the violation of your freedom to live and pray as Muslims in this, or any country that claims to be a civilised, tolerant and just society.

"Hatred of this kind affects all of us, regardless of what our faith might be. As Muslim and Christian, we must find a way to break the destructive cycle of fear and hatred. This land faces many challenges to the flourishing of its people in all the richness of our diversity.

"Let us, as people of faith, be known as those who are the foundation of a society in which kindness and respect shape the quality of our life."