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World's tallest building lit up with image of Jacinda Ardern

Saturday March 23, 2019
By Joel MacManus

Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, in Dubai measuring 829.8 metres.

The world's tallest building has been lit up with a giant image of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern embracing a woman at the Kilbirnie mosque in Wellington.

The Burj Khalifa, an 829-metre-tall skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, beamed out a photo taken by Wellington photographer Hagen Hopkins, as well as the Arabic word "salam" and its English translation, "peace".

Sheik Mohammed, the prime minister and vice-president of the UAE, and ruler of the emirate of Dubai, tweeted an image with a message of support and thanks for New Zealand.

"New Zealand today fell silent in honour of the mosque attacks' martyrs. Thank you PM Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world."

Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand's 4.8-million population, a 2013 census showed, most of whom were born overseas.

On Friday the Muslim call to prayer was broadcast nationwide on television and radio and about 20,000 people attended a prayer service in the park opposite Al Noor mosque in a show of solidarity.

Many women have also donned headscarves to show their support.

Most of the dead were laid to rest at a mass burial in Christchurch on Friday, when 26 victims were interred. Others have been buried at private ceremonies, or repatriated to their home countries for funerals.

Ardern has received credit from commentators around the world for her handling of the tragedy.

Two glowing editorials by The New York Times were headlined "America deserves a leader as good as Jacinda Ardern", and "Jacinda Ardern leads by following no-one".

The New Yorker ran a piece titled "Jacinda Ardern has rewritten the script for how a nation grieves after a terrorist attack", crediting her empathy and action to ban military-style semi-automatics and insistence on not naming the killer.

Speaking to Stuff.co.nz, Ardern has downplayed her own role in the nation's grieving.

"I don't think I'm displaying leadership. I just think I'm displaying humanity," she said.

"In politics we can choose to model behaviour ... I genuinely believe that all I am modelling are the values of New Zealanders. On every occasion when I've had an opportunity to share words, all I've reflected in my mind is: 'What are New Zealanders feeling right now? What are the words I'm hearing expressed around me? How do we all feel?'"


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