Friday March 22, 2019
Visitors look on as Muslims attend Friday prayers in a park near Al Noor mosque on March 22, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
CHRISTCHURCH, March 22 (Reuters) -
The Muslim call to prayer rang out over Christchurch and around New
Zealand on Friday, as thousands gathered to remember the 50 people
gunned down at two mosques a week ago.
Minister Jacinda Ardern led an estimated 5,000 people standing quietly
at Hagley Park in front of the Al Noor mosque, where most of the victims
died. "New Zealand mourns with you. We are one," she said in a short speech, followed by two minutes of silence.
victims of New Zealand's worst mass shooting were migrants or refugees
from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey,
Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
broken-hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are togther, we
are determined to not let anyone divide us," Imam Fouda told the
gathered crowd, many wearing headscarves in support.
the families of the victims, your loved ones did not die in vain. Their
blood has watered the seeds of hope," he said in prayers broadcast
nationally. Ardern, who swiftly denounced the attack as terrorism,
announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles
under tough new gun laws on Thursday.
NEW ZEALAND MOURNS
#headscarfforharmony movement, launched by an Auckland doctor,
encouraged people to wear headscarves on Friday to show their support
for the Muslim community.
Robyn Molony, 65, was with a group of friend wearing headscarves at Hagley Park, where they walked daily.
are wearing headscarves showing our support, love and solidarity, and
hope that by everybody doing this it will demonstrate to Muslim women
... that they are one with us," she said.
a grieving Ardern wearing a black headscarf as she visited families of
the victims a day after the attacks were broadcast around the world.
Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand's population, most of whom were born overseas.
not moving on. This grieving is going to take a long time," said
52-year-old Christchurch resident Bell Sibly, who wore a headscarf to
show her support. "But what he's done, he was hoping to divide us, and
instead, he's brought us all together in one big hug."
of Christchurch are still recovering from a devastating earthquake that
hit in 2011, killing 185 and injured thousands.
the earthquakes, we've gone through a lot as a city and we're a lot
more caring and looking out for one another," said James Sheehan, 62.
police have been guarding mosques around New Zealand since the attacks
and police said there would be a "heightened presence" on Friday to
reassure those attending weekly prayers.
Officers dotted around Christchurch wore green ribbons pinned to their chests as a sign of peace and solidarity.
vigils continued until late on Thursday across the country, while
volunteers prepared the bodies of the deceased for a mass burial that
expected after the prayers. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected
white supremacist, has been charged with one murder following the attack
and was remanded without a plea.
Media reported police had initially named a survivor of the attack as the victim, requiring a change to his charge sheet.
is due back in court on April 5, when police said he was likely to face
more charges. (Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Lincoln Feast)