New Zealand mourns Christchurch attack victims | News | DW | 22.03.2019
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New Zealand mourns Christchurch attack victims

Thousands have gathered across New Zealand to pay their respects to 50 people killed in a terror attack on two mosques. Imam Fouda offered words of comfort, saying: "We are brokenhearted, but we are not broken."

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: Opinion: After New Zealand, non-Muslims should show support

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: The hero of Christchurch talks

Watch video 26:06

Christchurch: Who's to blame for the hate?

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.

Her intitiative has broad support in New Zealand, DW's Samantha Early reports from Christchurch. "I don't see any issue at all with it getting through Parliament, and it's going to be a very quick process."

She says the major lobby groups, Federated Farmers and the New Zealand Police Association support the ban. Although there has been some concern over the pace of the changes, all major groups and parties agree on the need for stricter gun laws.

Read more: Opinion: Terrorism does not discriminate

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ng,ls/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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