Nation remains united over Christchurch massacre
RNZ Reports, Christchurch, March 22, 2019
People turned out in big numbers around New Zealand for the official Islamic Call to Prayer this afternoon, one week after 50 people were killed in attacks on two mosques in Christchurch.
Subsequently, vigils are being held across Aotearoa.
The main event was in North Hagley Park opposite the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attending the ceremony.
Prayer mats were laid out in the park facing the Mosque, which is about 100m away.
A large screen was erected so that members of the public could follow what was going on. The call to prayer started at 1.30 pm.
Later, Al Noor Mosque Imam Gamal Fouda, who survived Friday’s attacks, spoke, telling the crowd New Zealand was unbreakable.
“We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us,” he said.
More than 2000 people have indicated they will attend the Christchurch ‘March for Love’ which will start at North Hagley Park at 10 am on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
After a speech from the Mayor, a Muslim prayer and performances, the march would wind its way along Rolleston Avenue to the wall of flowers and then back to the park.
Three 16-year-olds had organised the event including Manaia Butler. A lot of hate had been brought to Christchurch, she said.
“The most powerful solution to that is a whole lot of love being shown and we have shown that through the earthquakes and we may have forgotten that over the few years that have been between these two events but it’s a great time to bring the Christchurch community back together again and heal and acknowledge those who have been lost and those who have helped out in this time of need.”
Remember those who lost their lives 15-3-19 will be held at 5 pm on Sunday at North Hagley Park and hopes to attract 50,000 people.
From 5 pm, prayers would be led by Muslim and Christian leaders followed by performances by opera singers and a kapa haka group. The vigil would make use of the stage for the cancelled Bryan Adams concert.
Organiser Scott Esdaile had been working on organising the vigil since the night of the shootings.
“We want to get the young ones there so I thought why not make this a family friendly event and turn it in to a little bit of a picnic and people can bring their candles and their blankets and a wee bit of something to eat because I know it’s around dinner time and you know we can all just come together as a community and just show our support,” he said.
Buses would be free this weekend and people were urged to use them rather than drive their cars.
Members of the public paid their respects at Auckland Mosques, such as the Masjid E Umar in Mount Roskill.
Kathryn, a preschool teacher, brought a card filled with art made by the pupils.
She said that the school was diverse and they wanted to show they cared about the Muslim community.
In Avondale, members of the community created a human chain outside the Islamic Centre.
Auckland’s Mayor Phil Goff attended the Jamia Masjid Al Mustafa in Ōtāhuhu.
He said that the reaction to the shootings was the biggest show of community solidarity he had seen in his lifetime.
“Through the gruelling week that we have had, the incredibly positive outcome has been just to see people come together in a way that over my whole lifetime I’ve never seen happen in New Zealand. People determined to stand together to say what happened does not reflect us as a people, it doesn’t reflect us as a nation, these are not our values,” he said.
Mr Goff said that all the Muslim communities he has meet say that they feel wonderfully supported by the people of New Zealand.
He will attend the events at Auckland Mosques tonight.
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Mosques in Ponsonby, Glenfield, Ranui and Pakuranga opened today for prayers.
A vigil was held at the Auckland Domain at 6 pm, attended by more than 5000 people.
There will also be smaller vigils throughout the city.
An anti-Islamophobia rally, Kia Kaha Aotearoa: Stand Against Racism, will be held at Aotea Square in Auckland at 2 pm on Sunday, March 24, 2019.
Thousands of people including emergency service staff, Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Mayor Justin Lestor, MPs Grant Robertson and James Shaw and leaders from other religious communities arrived at Kilbirnie Mosque.
A human chain has been formed outside the mosque who have at times broken into a waiata.
A haka was also performed by local school children.
About 1500 people visited Tauranga Mosque, many forming a human chain.
They were invited into the Mosque but there were so many people they spilled out onto the street. National Party leader Simon Bridges attended and school students performed a haka.
Two gangs – Mongrel Mob and Greazy Dogs – turned out, saying that they were there to offer protection.
Down in Dunedin, an emotional haka was performed outside the Al Huda Mosque as a show of solidarity. The street was packed as hundreds of people joined the circle of peace.
A Muslim woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was touched by the support.
“It is overwhelming and unexpected, but very touching and it’s really nice to see so much support. It’s not something I’ve ever imagined before in my life,” she said.
One of the messages written on a poster read: “Stay strong because things will be better. It might be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever.”
Other vigils around the country
In Nelson, crowds gathered in for today’s Hands Around Nelson’s Mosque memorial prayer service in Hardy Street.
Whangarei Anglicans faced Mecca, wore scarves, and left their shoes at the church door today to show support for Muslims.
A vigil was held at the Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth at 7 pm.
A candle-lit hikoi of unity was held in Hastings, starting at Albert Square at 630 pm and finishing at the Baitul Mokarram Masjid in Heretaunga Street East.
A vigil was held at Imam Reza Mosque in New Lynn from 630 pm to 730 pm.
The Kāpiti Vigil for Christchurch was held at 7 pm at the Zeal Youth Centre at 132 Rimu Road.
In the UK, a group that helps refugees and asylum seekers, held a vigil.
In the US, the Islamic Center of Boulder held a vigil.
Crowds gathered at the Sydney Town Hall Square to pay tribute to the victims of the shootings
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