New Zealand remembers mosque massacre victims during Friday prayers

New Zealand remembers mosque massacre victims during Friday prayers
Thousands of New Zealanders, including Prime Minister Ardern, gathered opposite al-Nour mosque to observe the call to prayer and a Friday sermon.
3 min read
22 March, 2019
Muslims attend Friday prayers the week after 50 were killed in two Christchurch mosques [Getty]

New Zealanders observed the Muslim call to prayer Friday as the nation reflected on the moment one week ago when 50 people were slaughtered at two mosques - an act an imam told the crowd of thousands had left the country broken-hearted but not broken.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and thousands of others congregated in leafy Hagley Park opposite the destroyed al-Noor mosque in Christchurch to observe the adhan (call to prayer), followed by the Friday prayer.

"New Zealand mourns with you. We are one," Ms Ardern said.

Thousands more were listening in on the radio or watching on television as the event was broadcast live. The prayer was followed by two minutes of silence.

Gamal Fouda, imam of the al-Nour mosque where a white supremacist gunman began his shooting rampage and killed 42, addressed what some estimate to be 20,000 New Zealanders - Muslims and non-Muslims - gathered for the Friday prayer.

"Last Friday I stood in this mosque and saw the hatred and the rage in the eyes of the terrorist who killed and martyred 50 innocent people, wounded 42, and broke the hearts of millions around the world," he said.

"Today from the same place, I look out and I see the love and compassion in the eyes of thousands of fellow New Zealanders and human beings from across the globe."

Officials laid out a large area of light brown carpeting where hundreds of Muslim men sat in socks or bare feet readying for the prayer. One man in the front row was in a Christchurch Hospital wheelchair.

Imam Fouda's speech had the resolute message "We are broken hearted, but we are not broken".

"This evil ideology of white supremacy did not strike us first, yet it struck us hardest. The number of people killed is not ordinary, but the solidarity in New Zealand is extraordinary."

Thousands of people gathered later in the day for a mass funeral to bury 26 victims of the mosque attack. A dozen of those killed have already been laid to rest.

Family members took turns passing around shovels and wheelbarrows to bury their loved ones. Friday's burials included the youngest victim, three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim.

Ikhlaq Kashkari, President of the New Zealand Muslim Association, told The New Arab: "I have no words to express the gratitude for the love, generosity and support that we have received from our fellow Kiwis and global community."

The events come the day after the government announced a ban on "military-style" semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines like the weapons that were used in last Friday's attacks.

An immediate sales ban went into effect Thursday to prevent stockpiling, and new laws would be rushed through parliament that would impose a complete ban on the weapons, Ardern said.

The al-Noor mosque's imam said workers have been toiling feverishly to repair the destruction, some of whom offered their services for free. Fouda expects the mosque to reopen by next week.

New Zealand is still in shock following the killings by alleged shooter Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian national who left behind an anti-immigration manifesto and livestreamed 17 minutes of the attack on Facebook.

Tarrant is in police custody and has been charged with murder.

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