Non-Muslim women offer flowers in show of solidarity with Canberra's Islamic community
Floral gesture: Ten Canberran women hand out flowers to the ACT Islamic community in Bruce on Saturday Photo: Annabelle Lee
Ten non-Muslim women, wearing hijabs and carrying flowers,
have touched Canberra's Islamic community with their simple message of
love and solidarity.
After a week of heightened anti-Islamic rhetoric in Canberra, where numerous politicians discussed banning the burqa, 10 women armed only with flowers attended an ACT Islamic festival to show support for their fellow Canberrans.
At three locations across Canberra on Saturday the Islamic
community celebrated Eid al-Adha, or the festival of the sacrifice,
which involves prayers followed by family events and feasting.
Floral wishes: Eliza Spencer, Kathryn Arnold, Fron
Garrett, Bec Bull, Annabelle Lee, Radia Fattah, Hannah Dungan, Kirrily
Burnett, Talitha Wilson, Gemma White and Tegan Howarth outside the AIS
at Bruce on Saturday. Photo: Annabelle Lee
As worshippers left the morning prayer at the AIS Stadium in
Bruce they were met by the women, who offered flowers to the women and
children in attendance.
Twenty-six-year-old Canberran Annabelle Lee, who helped
organise the show of support, said although reactions from Islamic
worshippers were originally cautious, they soon turned joyous.
"We told them we were sorry you've been treated so badly in
the media and we wanted to say we stand with you in solidarity and we
want to share love instead of hate," she said.
With love: Rebecca Bull, Kirrily Burnett, Eliza
Spencer, Annabelle Lee, Gemma White and Hannah Dungan wore hijabs and
gave out flowers at a Islamic service on weekend at a Muslim service. Photo: Jay Cronan
"And when they heard that, many of them wanted to give us a hug, many smiled and some were brought to tears."
She said they gave a flower to every woman and child present,
while some men asked if they could take flowers for their wives at
Islamic Society of Belconnen vice-president Hassan Warsi said
men and women from Canberra's Islamic community were touched by the
"They had people coming forward and putting a [hand] on their
shoulder, saying 'Look, we're here with you. We know you guys are good
people like us and we are all in a community, caring and sharing and it
should be an exception," he said.
"It was obviously a very good feeling and people were touched by that."
Another Canberra worshipper, who did not want to be named,
said everyone had appreciated what Ms Lee and her friends had done,
adding it had left them "joyful".
"It was a very unique approach to the Muslims in every way,
to show harmony and to show their respect. If there's a team Australia,
they want us included as well," he said.
Ms Lee said she and her friends came up with the idea when
they were having a conversation with their friend Radia, who is a
"She told us how she hadn't been attacked personally but she
felt very self-conscious at the moment. When she went to the shops
nobody would talk to her and she didn't feel very safe at that time,"
"So we [thought] what can we do in this situation as a
positive thing rather than doing nothing and keep having these women
feel like they're being judged?"
Mr Warsi said he hadn't noticed any change in community
attitudes to him or his family in Canberra since the recent announcement
of Australia sending planes to help in the fight against Islamic
He said Canberra was a very accepting community.
"I can say I've lived here for a long time and Canberra is a lot more accepting than many."