New Zealand reopens mosques targeted in terror attack | News | DW | 23.03.2019
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New Zealand reopens mosques targeted in terror attack

The Christchurch mosques where a gunman killed 50 people a week ago have reopened their doors under heightened security. Among those visiting were victims' relatives and a Jordanian prince.

Muslim worshippers returned to two mosques in Christchurch on Saturday for the first time since a terrorist attack there that left 50 people dead.

Hundreds of people, including a Jordanian prince, survivors and relatives of the victims, visited the Al Noor mosque to lay flowers or pray as armed police stood guard.

Shagat Khan, the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, said they decided to reopen the building after the police cordon was removed, letting people enter in small groups "so the mosque will be alive again."

"Those who lost their families are of course quite emotional," he said. "And those who were present here during the incident, of course the memories come back. The flashbacks."

Last Friday, a gunman killed more than 40 people at the mosque before opening fire at the nearby Linwood mosque, where the he killed a further seven people.

Read moreNew Zealand mourns Christchurch attack victims

Watch video 09:22

Thousands attend call to prayer in New Zealand

Jordanian prince pays respects

Among the first to enter the Al Noor mosque on Saturday was Vohra Mohammad Huzef, who said two of his roommates were killed. 

"Everyone wants to get back in again to give praise and to catch up. This is the central point of our community."

Crews have spent the past week removing signs of the carnage — repairing windows, filling bullet holes with plaster and coating the walls in fresh paint.

Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, who traveled to New Zealand to pay his respects, called it "a moment of deep anguish for all of us, all of humanity."

Read moreOpinion: Jacinda Ardern is getting things right in New Zealand

A police woman in a headscarf greets another woman in a headscarf

Women across New Zealand joined the Headscarf for Harmony campaign to show support for the Muslim community

Show of solidarity

Earlier on Saturday, around 3,000 people carrying signs such as "Muslims welcome, racists not," joined a "march for love" through Christchurch.

It's one of many displays of solidarity from New Zealanders in the wake of the attacks.

Read moreNew Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern's fight against terror, guns

The nation came to a standstill on Friday to mark one week since the massacre. A Muslim call to prayer was broadcast live on national television and followed by two minutes of silence for the dead. Women around the country also donned headscarves to show their support for the Muslim community.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has won praise from around the world for her leadership and compassion following the shootings. To thank her for her response, Dubai projected an image of her face onto its iconic Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper.

"Thank you PM @jacindaardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world," Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum wrote on Twitter.

The terror attacks shocked New Zealand and prompted Ardern to move swiftly to toughen the country's gun laws. Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant has been charged over the shootings and is due to face court in April.

nm/jlw (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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