NEWCASTLE's grieving Muslim community has been overwhelmed by support following the Christchurch mosque massacre, saying they will continue to celebrate their faith to show that terrorists have not won.
About 200 people attended Newcastle Muslim Association's Sunday afternoon vigil at its Wallsend mosque and about 800 came to The Islamic Centre of Newcastle's Saturday night vigil at its Mayfield mosque. Leaders said prayers for the dead and called for peace and unity.
Newcastle Muslim Association's Sheikh Mohammed Khamis said "the trauma we are experiencing today is not just for Muslims alone, it affects all of us together".
Dr Abdulrazak Mohamad, Uniting Church Reverend Neil Smith, Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon and Macquarie College principal Rohan Deanshaw also spoke at Wallsend. Police from Strike Force Raptor attended.
Uniting Church representative David Whitson brought a sign bearing Crowded House lyrics, 'They come to build a wall between us, we know they won't win'.
Dr Abdulrazak Mohamad said he felt "shame" the alleged perpetrator was Australian but knew the man's beliefs didn't reflect those of all Australians.
He said the vigil, flowers and cards were a "true representation" of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in Wallsend.
"This is not a Muslim gathering, it's a community gathering to show our solidarity as an Australian community against sick mentality and evil ideology wherever it comes from and whoever the perpetrator is," he said.
"We are sending a strong message across the community and nation that this is the real Australia - we all want mutual respect, harmony, peace and unity. We're all responsible for - and entitled to - living in safety."
Dr Mohamad said Muslims would "never change" their commitment to their faith, "because we don't think what we have been doing is wrong".
"That would give them the feeling of victory, but they are not victorious, they are losers," he said.
"To lean in to those ideologies would give them the idea they are right. We will keep doing what we are doing and walking hand in hand with others."
Dr Mohamad said while he had been "careful" about his wife and children attending their place of worship, increasing security at the mosque was a "double edged sword".
"Giving more security will give the feeling of insecurity, both for worshippers and our brothers and sisters in Newcastle," he said.
"There has been fear and there have been calls to consider security in our mosque. Hopefully there is no need to put guards on."
At Mayfield, Sheikh Mohamed Hamed told a vigil including Catholic Bishop Bill Wright, Anglican Bishop Dr Peter Stuart and Newcastle City Police District Superintendent Brett Greentree that "Islamophobia and hate can no longer be ignored and the spread of hate must stop".
He urged the community to "call out actions for what they are and work with Islamic religious communities to improve love, respect and understanding". "Please, listen to us, do not hear about us."
Sheikh Hamed and centre secretary Forugh Dorani said they heard about the attack 30 minutes before 1.30pm Friday prayers started.
"I felt empty," Mr Dorani said.
"I thought 'Someone can walk in here, anybody could be targeted'."
People had started to leave flowers by the time they emerged.
Visitors over the weekend offered handshakes, hugs and kind words and asked how they could show their support.
Sheikh Hamed said police visited twice on Friday, four times on Saturday and said they would visit for the next few Fridays. He said members of the public also said they would visit on future Fridays in a sign of solidarity.
"The sentiments and gestures give us hope, they give us strength," Mr Dorani said. "They show the power of humanity."
They said they expected about 400 for the vigil and were surprised to see people "of all religions and no religion" filling the mosque and gathering outside.
Sheikh Hamed said he couldn't speak for a few minutes and had to avoid eye contact with emotional visitors to keep his composure.
"The solidarity from the community, from people around us, is very, very, very appreciated," he said.
"We are one body, we are together."