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.