WE face great challenges, of that there is no doubt.

The recent horrific attacks on two mosques in New Zealand have thrown into the spotlight the rise in hate and the devastating consequences for us all.

The taking of life is always abhorrent and even more shocking when perpetrated in sacred spaces.

There is so much for us to reflect on in the aftermath of this assault; not least that we need to call out all extreme narratives of hate and intolerance and challenge the avenues by which they take root and are spread.

As an optimist, I would like to focus on the stories of respect and love that highlight the human capacity to reach out, connect and show compassion.

There is far more good than evil in the world and we have the capacity to counter hate with more than its weight in love.

I meet young people from all backgrounds, races, colours, faiths and orientations and it is always apparent that young people want to understand one another and have a natural interest in creating ways to connect.

That curiosity, openness and respect is inspiring and can remind us all that we have so much in common. Following the tragic murder of Jo Cox, her words "we have far more in common than that which divides us", became a mantra of hope and resilience.

Let us just reflect on a few of the stories that unfolded on Friday, March 15:

Daoud Nabi had welcomed the killer into the mosque with the words, 'Salam/Peace, Welcome brother.'

After Ambreen Naeem lost her husband and son in the shooting, she said "I feel sad for the terrorist. I feel pity for him that he didn't have love in his heart, he had hate..."

Zaid Mustafa, a 13 year old, lost his brother and father in the attack having left Syria as refugees to reside in New Zealand.

Then there are other stories of compassion and kindness:

The wonderful gesture by a gentleman who stood outside a Manchester mosque with a placard stating "you are my friends. I will keep watch while you pray".

Sonny Fatu, president of a group of bikers stood guard outside a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers saying "we will support and assist our Muslim brothers and sisters for however long they need us".

We are one race; the human race. We must remember that our shared humanity binds us deeper than we can ever know and an assault on one person is an assault on all humanity.

We have witnessed up close the horrific effects of terror, with the attack on our very own Manchester Arena. Our response then was of unity and solidarity and the same is called upon again.

Let us reach out to one another; say a kind word, extend a hand, be a shoulder to lean on, whether you be a neighbour, a work colleague or a friend. Our differences are part of a beautiful tapestry; to be valued and honoured.

The words of the Quran are quite inspiring: "O mankind! We created you from a male and a female and made you into Nations and tribes that you may know one other (not despise each other). The most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you."

Sara Saigol

Altrincham and Hale Muslim Association

Altrincham Interfaith Group