Christian’s post-New Zealand attack gesture for Muslim worshippers in Manchester goes viral

Christian man Andrew Graystone in the UK has won the hearts of people across the globe after his gesture of protecting Muslim worshippers at a Manchester mosque
Updated 17 March 2019
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Christian’s post-New Zealand attack gesture for Muslim worshippers in Manchester goes viral

  • Following the tragic events, Graystone said he was determined to show his support for the Muslim community
  • The image shared by Twitter user Zia Salik went viral almost immediately

LONDON: A Christian man in the UK has won the hearts of people across the globe after his gesture of protecting Muslim worshippers at a Manchester mosque went viral in the wake of the New Zealand terror attacks.
Andrew Graystone told Manchester Evening News that he had been “horrified” to read the news of 50 people being killed by a white supremacist terrorist as they attended prayers at a mosque in the city of Christchurch last Friday.
Following the tragic events, Graystone said he was determined to show his support for the Muslim community in his home city of Manchester.
He was pictured outside a mosque in the Levenshulme area of the city, holding a sign which read: “You are my friends. I will keep watch while you pray.”

The image shared by Twitter user Zia Salik went viral almost immediately as details emerged of the attack in New Zealand.
Speaking to MEN, Graystone said: “I woke up on Friday morning and I heard the terrible news about the killings in the mosque in Christchurch.
“I began to think about how I would feel if I was a Muslim in Manchester going to Friday prayers, perhaps feeling afraid or angry, and what small thing I could do to make a difference.
“You can either meet these things with either fear or friendship — that’s the choice we have to make and in the end friendship wins.”
Explaining why he made the sign, he told the newspaper: “Levenshulme is a very multicultural community with churches, mosques and even a Jain temple all very close together.
“The relationships are generally really good but something like the New Zealand incident can test them.
“Something I could offer to people in Manchester was to literally watch their backs or at least stand outside with a smiling face at the doors of the mosque as they arrive.
“You could see people wondering what I was doing at first. Perhaps they thought I was some sort of protester with a placard.
“But as they saw the message they smiled and after prayers they came out to thank me. People said they were glad to be supported.
“I belong to a church and so we have a lot in common,” he added.

 


New Chicago mayor gives Arabs hope

Updated 30 min 56 sec ago
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New Chicago mayor gives Arabs hope

  • The election of Lori Lightfoot as mayor gives Chicago’s Arabs an opportunity to reverse the damage that Rahm Emanuel has caused
  • Emanuel’s first acts as mayor included blocking the annual Arabesque Festival, which Jewish groups complained against

Plagued by ongoing controversies and criticism that he tried to hide a video of Chicago police killing a black teenager in October 2014, Rahm Emanuel decided he had had enough as the city’s mayor and decided to retire.

Elected in 2011 with a big boost from his former boss, US President Barack Obama — also a Chicago native — Emanuel served two full terms.

But his hopes of reversing the city’s tumbling finances, improving its poorly performing schools, and reversing record gun-related violence and killings, all failed.

However, Emanuel did have one success. He managed to gut the involvement of Chicago’s Arab-American minority in city-sponsored events, responding favorably to its influential Jewish-American community leadership, which complained about Palestinian activists who advocated for statehood and challenged Israeli oppression.

Emanuel’s first acts as mayor included blocking the annual Arabesque Festival, which Jewish groups complained included photographs of Palestinians protesting against Israel. The festival had only been launched four years earlier by his predecessor in 2007.

Emanuel also disbanded the Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs, and ended Arab American Heritage Month, which had been held every November since it was recognized by Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.

Emanuel refused to discuss his reasons for these decisions with leaders of Chicago’s Arab community.

He declined repeated requests by me to interview him, despite my having interviewed seven Chicago mayors. He declined similar requests from other Arab journalists.

While he hosted iftars for Muslims, he never hosted an Arab heritage celebration during his eight years in office.

His father was a leader of the Irgun, which was denounced as a terrorist organization in the 1940s by the British military.

The Irgun murdered British soldiers and thousands of Palestinian civilians, and orchestrated the bloody Deir Yassin massacre on April 9, 1948.

Before becoming mayor, Emanuel volunteered at an Israeli military base repairing damaged vehicles. His pro-Israel stance was never challenged by the mainstream US news media.

But with the election in February of Lori Lightfoot as mayor, Chicago’s Arabs have an opportunity to reverse the damage that Emanuel caused.

Lightfoot was sworn into office on Monday and serves for four years. She has already reached out to Arabs, appointing at least two Palestinians to her 400-person transition team, whose members often remain and assume government positions with new administrations.

The two Palestinians in her transition team are Rush Darwish and Rami Nashashibi. Darwish has organized several successful marathons in Chicago and Bethlehem to raise funds for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Nashashibi is involved with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN).

As an African American, Lightfoot knows what it is like to be the victim of racism, stereotypes and discrimination. That makes her more sensitive to the concerns of Chicago’s Arabs.