ANGLICAN leaders in Melbourne diocese have offered aid to Muslims in Geelong, Victoria, after a mosque was destroyed by fire this week.
One of Melbourne’s regional bishops, the Rt Revd Philip Huggins, whose episcopal area includes Geelong, wrote to the Islamic Council of Victoria and the imam of the mosque offering the use of the parish hall at All Saints’, Newtown, for Friday prayers. In the event, the hall next to the mosque was used.
The recently retired Vicar of All Saints’, the Rt Revd Peter Danaher, attended prayers there on Friday as a gesture of support. Other clergy in the area also offered assistance.
The fire — the fifth church fire in the area this year — is being treated as arson. Police in Geelong believe the fires may be a protest against clergy sexual abuse, and that the mosque — once a Methodist church — was set alight by someone who did not realise it had switched.
They do not believe that the fire was an attack on Islam, even though it comes at a time when planned mosques in Australia are increasingly provoking opposition from vocal anti-Islamic groups in the community.