New Zealand mourns Christchurch attack victims

Mourners in New Zealand and across the world on Friday paid tribute to the 50 people killed in attacks on two mosques in the coastal city of Christchurch last week.

Across the country, thousands of people observed the Muslim call to prayer, which was broadcast nationally by radio stations and television channels at 1:30 pm local time (00:30 UTC). Immediately following the call, mourners observed two minutes of silence, after which the Muslim community joined in prayer.

Addressing some 5,000 people in front of the al-Noor mosque, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “New Zealand mourns with you. We are one.”

Read more: The hero of Christchurch talks

Muslim men pray during a service for the victims of the Christchurch terror attack

Thousands joined in prayer following two minutes of silence for the victims of the Christchurch terror attack

‘We are together’

Imam Gamal Fouda of al-Noor mosque also offered words of comfort for those gathered.

“We are brokenhearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us,” Fouda said. “To the families of the victims, your loved ones did not die in vain. Their blood has watered seeds of hope.”

Several women in attendance wore a veil, a traditional Islamic garb sometimes worn by female believers, out of respect for the Muslim victims. The majority of victims were migrants or refugees from Pakistan, India and Indonesia, among others.

Read more: Opinion: Terrorism does not discriminate

Gun control

Last Friday, a suspected white supremacist identified as Australian Brenton Tarrant is believed to have attacked two mosques in Christchurch. The gunman livestreamed the attack, which he committed using a semi-automatic assault rifle. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced a sweeping ban on semi-automatic and military-style guns. 

“Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned,” Ardern said.

Read more: Opinion: Jacinda Ardern is getting things right in New Zealand 

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  • Bloodied bandages on the road following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019.

    Christchurch grieves right-wing terror attack

    ‘There was blood everywhere’

    A witness said “there was blood everywhere,” after a right-wing terror attack on two New Zealand mosques killed 50 on Friday. Another witness saw a man in black enter the Al Noor mosque during prayers in Christchurch and heard dozens of shots before fleeing, adding that he saw several dead on the scene. As of Friday afternoon 48 people, including children, were being treated for gunshot wounds.

  • A view of the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue in Christchurch, New Zealand, taken in 2014.

    Christchurch grieves right-wing terror attack

    Twin attacks target two mosques

    Police asked all mosques across New Zealand to close while they hunted those responsible for the twin attacks. Al Noor mosque (above) is approximately 7 kilometers across the city from Linwood Mosque, the site of the second shooting.

  • A police officer responds following shooting at Linwood in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019, in this still image obtained from a social media video.

    Christchurch grieves right-wing terror attack

    City on lockdown

    Police initially arrested four people, two of them armed, and later charged one with murder. An Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, is alleged to have filmed himself carrying out the shooting and streamed it on social media. A manifesto was also published online, praising white men who had carried out similar massacres. It also called US President Donald Trump a “symbol of renewed white identity.”

  • AOS (Armed Offenders Squad) push back members of the public following a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand,, March 15, 2019

    Christchurch grieves right-wing terror attack

    ‘Atmosphere of fear’

    The attacker’s stated aim was to “create an atmosphere of fear” and “incite violence” against Muslims. Police said they recovered several guns from the mosques and two explosive devices in two vehicles at the scene. While the suspects were unknown to police, they said the attack appeared to have been well planned. Police were not searching for other suspects, but were on alert

  • A police officer stands gurad during Friday prayers at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, providing extra security after the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, March 15, 2019.

    Christchurch grieves right-wing terror attack

    Narrow escape as shock spreads

    The world reacted in shock. Anger spread in some countries and security was heightened at prayers at this mosque in Bangladesh as news was released that the Bangladeshi cricket team had narrowly escaped the shooting. The players had arrived at one of the mosques as the attack was unfolding when they heard gunshots.

  • Jacinda Ardern (Getty Images/M. Tantrum)

    Christchurch grieves right-wing terror attack

    ‘One of New Zealand’s darkest days’

    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as terrorism, calling it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.” “Many directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here…They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not,” she said.

  • Palestinians perform funeral prayer in absentia for those who lost their lives during twin terror attacks in New Zealand mosques after performing Friday prayer at Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem on March 15, 2019.

    Christchurch grieves right-wing terror attack

    World in mourning

    Friday sermons across the world were dominated by grief and prayers for the lives lost in the attack. Prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem (here) mourned the victims. Demonstrations in other major cities such as Sydney, Istanbul and London condemned global terror.

  • Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the media outside New Zealand House, following Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, in London, Britain March 15, 2019.

    Christchurch grieves right-wing terror attack

    Dismay at ‘senseless violence’

    Leaders across the world expressed solidarity with the victims and their families, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn outside New Zealand House in London. Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed solidarity against “racist hatred,” and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called it an “attack on all of us.” Queen Elizabeth was “deeply saddened,” while other leaders expressed their outrage at hate speech.

    Author: Tom Allinson

ls/rc (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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