Christian church offers space to Muslims for prayer after mosque fire

The Anglican Bishop of Melbourne has reached out to Muslims after their mosque in Geelong, Victoria was burned to the ground on Wednesday, May 18.

According to ABC, Bishop Philip Huggins has reached out to the mosque's Imam, Mohammad Ramzan, to offer their church hall at Newton's All Saints Anglican Parish so the Muslims could use it for Friday's prayers.

An image of the Sunshine Mosque located in Melbourne, Australia | Creative Commons/Turco85

Huggins expressed the church's intention to extend their help.

"We appreciate how shocking and distressing the destruction of a place of prayer and community strengthening is," he said. "With this common ground between us, clearly we would want to reach out and help our Muslim friends continue their devotional life."

The Geelong mosque is reportedly the fifth religious building to be burned down, but Inspector Graham Banks clarified that the first four fires targeted Christian churches so there's a possibility the mosque was mistaken for a church.

The Anglican Communion News Service listed the 140-year-old St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Bannockburn, Geelong as the first Christian church burned down on Oct. 14, 2015. St. Peter's Chains Reformed Episcopal Church of Australia and Norlane Baptist Church were burned on December 5. The first church to be destroyed this year was the Geelong Presbyterian Church on April 15.

"Since this morning we have received many telephone calls from the community leaders in and around Melbourne and Geelong expressing their ... overwhelming support," Sheikh Muhammed Saleem from the Board of Imaams Victoria told ABC.

"I'm very pleased to hear the men and women who live in the neighbourhood come forward and ask me personally what we can do, and my answer to them was, 'Let's stand together and rebuild it," he said.

Ramzan shared with 774 ABC Melbourne that their mosque was known for peace, unity, love, and tolerance. He claimed it symbolized the neighborhood and community's solidarity and expressed his intention of rebuilding the mosque again. He believes the mosque was not burned down on purpose.

Other Muslims in the community also expressed their disbelief saying that it was a house of peace and serenity throughout its 23 years of history.