New Zealand PM joins thousands to mourn mosque attack victims, events planned for Vancouver Island Friday

New Zealand PM joins thousands to mourn mosque attack victims, events planned for Vancouver Island Friday


New Zealanders gathered today for nationwide prayers to mark one week since mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch killed 50 worshippers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led thousands of mourners in prayer early on Friday afternoon, local time, at a park in front of the Al Noor mosque.

“New Zealand mourns with you. We are one,” she said in a short speech, followed by two minutes of silence.

Most of the victims died at the Al Noor mosque.

The mosque’s Imam Gamal Fouda told the crowd, “This terrorist sought to tear our nation apart with an evil ideology that has torn the world apart. But instead we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable, and that the world can see in us an example of love and unity. We are broken hearted but we are not broken. We are alive. We are together. We are determined to not let anyone divide us.”

Ardern, who has labelled the attack terrorism, announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles under new gun laws on Thursday.

The prime minister was accompanied at the Christchurch prayers by community leaders and foreign dignitaries.

The call to prayer was broadcast nationally across all free-to-air TV and radio stations.



Events planned for Vancouver Island on Friday

Several events will take place on Friday on Vancouver Island to mark a week since the deadly mosque attacks in New Zealand.

The Sikh community is inviting Islanders to take part in a protective human chain at Masjid Al Iman, 2218 Quadra Street, on Friday from 12.45 to 3.00pm.

“We will be doing this as a show of love and solidarity with our Muslim family and to remind everyone that bigotry will not be tolerated,” a press release reads.

“This human shield will be a physical barrier of protection for those feeling persecuted and vulnerable following the horrors in New Zealand .”

On Friday evening, people are invited to Victoria City Hall to take part in a forum to discuss the threat of Islamophobia in the city and in the country.

Organizers say the event will consist of a presentation, a workshop, and a discussion.

In Nanaimo, people are invited to extend a hand of friendship and support at the Nanaimo Islamic Centre at 897 Harbourview Street on Friday from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m.

With files from CBC

Ben O'HaraBen O'Hara

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