Thousands attend remembrance service for Christchurch mosque attacks


Delegates from almost 60 countries will join thousands of New Zealanders for the service at Hagley Park in Christchurch, marking two weeks since a gunman claimed 50 lives in a mass shooting at two mosques.

"Today, New Zealand has responded to hate with love".

"We cannot confront these issues alone, none of us can".

"Even the ugliest of viruses can exist in places they are not welcome".

"But for now we will remember the tears of our nation and the new resolve we have formed", she said. What words express the grief of a city that already known so much pain? "And I think that is a very, very powerful message", he told reporters on Friday.

"And I was met with the simple greeting al-Salam Alaikum, peace be upon you".

Moreover, PM Ardern showed respect to the Muslim tradition by dressing appropriately and wearing a headscarf in her meetings with the families, and later at the funeral ceremonies.

Farid Ahmed told the crowd: "I can not deny the fact that he is my human brother".

Sitting in his wheelchair before the assembled crowd, Ahmed said he forgave the accused gunman, Australian Brenton Tarrant. "A volcano has anger, fury, rage". It doesn't have peace.

Delegates from almost 60 countries also heard Ahmed describe how he doesn't want hatred to be the prevailing emotion.

"I do not hate him, I can not hate anyone", he said, adding he does not want a heart "boiling like a volcano, which has anger, fury and rage".

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"Their body is going to perish but their souls are not going to perish", Ahmed said.

"He was a really nice man", one little girl said.

"Those actions were created to divide us and tear us apart", she said. "They have instead united us".

Main image: Members of the Christchurch Muslim community read the names of the dead during a national remembrance service for the victims of the March 15 terror attacks. The youngest of the victims was only three years old.

There has also been a surge of interest from predominantly Muslim countries despite their faith being targeted by a lone gunman during Friday prayers.

"Violence and extremism in all its forms is not welcome here", Ardern says in this video filmed by crowd member Michelle Baillie.Around 20,000 people attended the service including survivors of the attacks, political leaders, global dignatories and members of the Muslim community, the Christchurch City Council said in a statement.British singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, also performed his song Peace Train at the event.

"There are the laws we need now, to ensure that social media is not weaponized", Morrison said. A helicopter circled the event and police commissioner Mike Bush called it one of the largest security operations in New Zealand history.

Ardern will address the service, which has the theme "We Are One" and will be broadcast on national television.

Cat Stevens, the British singer who converted to Islam in the 1970s, also performed.

Thousands more were expected to attend a service at Auckland's Eden Park on Friday afternoon.