New Zealand reopens mosques that were attacked

Orient Net 2019-03-23 10:03:00

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Smelling of fresh paint, the two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch where a gunman killed 50 worshipers last week reopened their doors on Saturday (March 22), with many survivors among the first to walk in and pray for those who died, Reuters reported.

At the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 of the victims were killed by a suspected white supremacist, prayers resumed with armed police on site, but no graphic reminders of the mass shooting, New Zealand’s worst.

Aden Diriye, who lost his 3-year-old son, Mucad Ibrahim, in the attack, came back to the mosque with his friends.

“I am very happy,” he said after praying. “Allah is great to us. I was back as soon as we rebuilt, to pray.”

Most victims of the shooting, which New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quickly denounced as a terrorist attack, were migrants or refugees and their deaths reverberated around the Islamic world.

Police said they were reopening the nearby Linwood mosque, the second to be attacked during Friday prayers last week, as well.

New Zealand has been under heightened security alert since the attack with Ardern moving quickly with a new tough law banning some of the guns used in the March 15 shooting. <

Ashif Shaikh, who was in the Al Noor mosque on the day of the massacre in which two of his housemates were killed and who came back on Saturday, said he would not be deterred.

“It is the place where we pray, where we meet, we’ll be back, yeah,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, about 3,000 people walked through Christchurch in a “march for love” as the city seeks to heal from its tragedy.

Carrying placards with signs such as “He wanted to divide us, he only made us stronger”, “Muslims welcome, racists not”, and “Kia Kaha” - Maori for ‘stay strong’, people walked mostly in silence or softly sang a Maori hymn of peace.

“We feel like hate has brought a lot of darkness at times like this and love is the strongest cure to light the city out of that darkness,” said Manaia Butler, 16, one of the student organizers of the march.

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.

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