New Zealand mourns with prayers, silence

New Zealand mourns with prayers, silence

CHRISTCHURCH- Reuters
New Zealand mourns with prayers, silence

The Muslim call to prayer sounded out over Christchurch and around New Zealand on March 22, as thousands gathered to remember the 50 people killed by a lone gunman at two mosques a week ago.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined about 20,000 people standing quietly at Hagley Park, in front of the Al Noor mosque where most of the victims were killed during Friday prayers last week.

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

Ardern, who swiftly denounced the shooting as terrorism, has announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, has been charged with one murder following the Christchurch attack and was remanded without a plea.

He is due back in court on April 5, when police said he was likely to face more charges.

"We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us," Imam Gamal Fouda told the crowd at the Al Noor mosque, many wearing headscarves in support of the grieving Muslim community.

Tens of thousands of people paid their respects around the country with some forming human chains in front of mosques. Others said silent prayers at schools, cafes and even offices.

Ardern, surrounded by ministers and security officials at Hagley Park, wore a black headscarf and a black suit. Female police at the park also wore headscarves, with a red rose on their uniforms.

New Zealand, Christchurch, Attack, Islamophobia