After a very sad few days following the tragic terror attack in New Zealand, one man has restored faith in humanity after standing in front of his local mosque in solidarity with worshippers with a sign that read: "You are my friends. I will keep watch while you pray".
Andrew Graystone from Levenshulme, Manchester stood outside the Madina mosque on Friday shortly after hearing about the shooting at two mosques in Christchurch that left 49 people dead. He held a cardboard sign with a handwritten message that read: "You are my friend. I will keep watch while you pray", greeting worshippers with "salaam" or peace as they arrived.
Speaking to the Guardian about why he chose to stand outside the mosque, Graystone said:
I thought, what would it feel like as a Muslim going to prayers today? I would feel a mixture of enmity and even fear.
The Mancunian also went on to describe how people arriving were suspicious at first, thinking that he was a protester with a sign. But shortly after, the imam of the mosque commended him during the service. He said:
When people came out, I was surrounded by hundreds of people. People were thanking me, blessing me. Some people said their faith in humanity was restored
The picture of Graystone warmed many hearts and was widely shared on social media, with many thanking him for his act of solidarity.
Graystone, who is Christian, said he believes its not about religion, but about community:
It’s about friendship and community, and you have to take the first step sometimes and build bridges. At times like this, you have to choose between fear and friendship. You have to make that choice.
Since then he has continued to bless us with his wisdom, taking to Twitter to write messages of friendship and unity.