New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, center, leaves after Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday. Photo: REUTERS/Jorge Silva
world

New Zealand mourns with prayer, silence one week after mosque attack

12 Comments
By Tom Westbrook

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.

Prime 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.

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People attend Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday. Photo: REUTERS/Jorge Silva

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People pray at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday. Photo: REUTERS/Edgar Su

Most 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.

"We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us," Imam Fouda told the gathered crowd, many wearing headscarves in support.

"To 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.

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Women wearing headscarves as a tribute to the victims of the mosque attacks are seen before Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque on Friday. Photo: REUTERS/Jorge Silva

The #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.

“We 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.

Images of 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.

"We're 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."

Residents of Christchurch are still recovering from a devastating earthquake that hit in 2011, killing 185 and injured thousands.

"Since 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.

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A policewoman wears a headscarf at Hagley Park. Photo: REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Armed 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.

Candlelight 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.

Tarrant is due back in court on April 5, when police said he was likely to face more charges.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

12 Comments
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Jacinda's finest moment. She has done pretty well, I'll give her that. Today I saw unity on a scale that I've never seen before. I think we truly put our differences aside for a couple of minutes and pretty much became one. There are stories of cars lines up on the side of the road all over the country as commuters stopped to reflect. My own workplace stopped. Supermarkets & shopping centres stopped. The eerie, haunting & unfamiliar call to prayer. The sermon was very good. The complete silence for 2 minutes. It was all rather strange... but peaceful and beautiful. I'm not sure, but I don't think there are many places in the world that would pull this off quite so well.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The world stands with the brave people of New Zealand.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

YESTERDAYTODAYTOMORROW & Toasted Heretic

Agree with you both.

On facebook, I read that even biker gangs were lining up to offer protection for the muslims during the first prayer after the attack. NZ is an amazing country with an amazing PM and awesome people.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

On facebook, I read that even biker gangs were lining up to offer protection for the muslims during the first prayer after the attack.

Yes - it's true, but I'm a bit cynical at this gesture. To make it meaningful, I would like to see the gangs turn in their semi-automatic weapons that are now (or soon to be) illegal. Unfortunately I don't see that happening.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Yes - it's true, but I'm a bit cynical at this gesture. To make it meaningful, I would like to see the gangs turn in their semi-automatic weapons that are now (or soon to be) illegal. Unfortunately I don't see that happening.

They are saying on facebook that when they go to the mosque to protect the muslims, they are going without guns. That's what's on facebook anyway.. I don't really know.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Who is Tom Westbrook to defy New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's ban on uttering the persona non grata perpetrator? Japan: be in solidarity with Prime Minister Ardern by abiding with her wishes, her leadership. Please. Thank you. Francis F Smith Pleasant City, Ohio USA

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It's been suggested that Jacinda Ardern be nominated for the Nobel peace prize. That'd be awesome.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

At risk of repeating the obvious, what happened in New Zealand a week ago was atrocious and evil.

Each day since that awful event, I have prayed for the victims and their families and friends.

And I will continue to do so for quite some time.

The #headscarfforharmony movement, launched by an Auckland doctor, encouraged people to wear headscarves on Friday to show their support for the Muslim community.

But if I were living in New Zealand, I honestly would not wear a headscarf, or hijab as it's called.

I would not wear it because, while I understand that many Muslim women wear it voluntarily, many more do not. They are forced to wear it -- and in at least some places in the world, under penalty of severe punishment, including even death.

It is, in many respects, a symbol of women's oppression and subjugation.

Again, I know that many Muslim women choose to wear it, a choice I fully respect.

But I do not feel I have to wear one in order to show sympathy or mourning for the Christchurch victims. If my words and prayers alone cannot suffice, then something is wrong.

If I were living in NZ and some friends of mine chose to wear a hijab for this occasion, I would certainly respect their choice.

But I would hope that my choice to not wear one would also be respected -- and that it would not be bent and twisted into meaning that I don't care about the victims.

Call that uncaring, call it "Islamophobic," I don't care. But I would not wear something just to virtue-signal my care for the victims, when I know in my heart and in my prayers that I do care about them.

And I certainly wouldn't wear something that in many respects symbolizes the inferioritising of women -- so much so that many countries, even including some Muslim countries, have actually banned the wearing of such garb in public.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

If I were living in NZ and some friends of mine chose to wear a hijab for this occasion, I would certainly respect their choice. 

But I would hope that my choice to not wear one would also be respected -- and that it would not be bent and twisted into meaning that I don't care about the victims.

You would have that choice and be respected for your choice. It's not a negative thing either way.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

JenniSchiebel

while I understand that many Muslim women wear it voluntarily, many more do not. They are forced to wear it -- and in at least some places in the world, under penalty of severe punishment, including even death.

Links? Or are you thinking of the niqab?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Aly Ruston, you dont know NZ. No way is a civilian - let alone a biker gang- going to be allowed to stand guard in a public place while toting firearms.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Aly Ruston, you dont know NZ. No way is a civilian - let alone a biker gang- going to be allowed to stand guard in a public place while toting firearms.

I don't claim to know NZ. I was quoting facebook. So I would appreciate it if you didn't make such comments. And try to spell my name correctly next time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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