The world has been reeling since a white supremacist murdered 50 people in a terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, a week ago, and the response from local biker groups to the tragedy is making headlines.
Biker groups like The Mongrel Mob, King Cobra, and The Black Power have vowed to stand guard outside mosques as Muslims ready to take part in their first Friday prayer services since the shootings last week.
"We will support and assist our Muslim brothers and sisters for however long they need us," Waikato Mongrel Mob president Sonny Fatu said in his offer to shield the Jamia Masjid Mosque in Hamilton.
Fatu said the Mongrel Mob were contacted by representatives who said members of the Muslim community had expressed fears and reservations about taking part in Friday prayers:
"The question was posed whether we could be a part of the safety net for them to allow them to pray in peace without fear. Of course we would do that, there was no question about that and we will be dressed appropriately. We will not be armed. We are peacefully securing the inner gated perimeter, with other community members, to allow them to feel at ease."
Black Power member Dennis O'Reilly says other groups are happy to support their Muslim neighbors in their time of need:
"We're particularly keen that where people have been divided they be able to come together. Also, no-one likes to see women and children shot and maimed, especially in the context of prayer, so all of those things start to come together, people feel empathy, and a desire to protect and support."
The groups have been repeatedly linked to organized crime over the years, but Waikato Muslim Association president Dr. Asad Mohsin believes that focusing on that at the present time would do little other than devalue their service:
"It all gives us strength to overcome the grief we are undergoing. We would welcome them to come into the mosque and pray with us. They are part of us as we are part of them. Islam is inclusive, free of judgement — we don't see gang members, as we see them. We value them as humans and we appreciate that they value us too."
The bikers' actions have received praise from around the world.
A biker group made headlines the weekend immediately after the shooting after its members performed the haka, a ceremonial dance in Māori culture, to honor the deceased.
Members of the Mangu Kaha Aotearoa biker gang payed tribute to the victims of the Christchurch mosque terror attack… https://t.co/W6Hr4OPgyp— On Demand News (@On Demand News)1552906904.0
That's what love and tolerance look like.