New Zealand reopens mosques that were attacked
Smelling of fresh paint, the two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch where a gunman killed 50 worshippers last week reopened their doors on March 23, with many survivors among the first to walk in and pray for those who died.
At the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 of the victims were killed by a suspected white supremacist, prayers resumed with armed police on site, but no graphic reminders of the mass shooting, New Zealand's worst.
Aden Diriye, who lost his 3-year-old son, Mucad Ibrahim, in the attack, came back to the mosque with his friends.
"I am very happy," he said after praying. "Allah is great to us. I was back as soon as we rebuilt, to pray."
Most victims of the shooting, which New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quickly denounced as a terrorist attack, were migrants or refugees and their deaths reverberated around the Islamic world.
Police said they were reopening the nearby Linwood mosque, the second to be attacked during Friday prayers last week, as well.
New Zealand has been under heightened security alert since the attack with Ardern moving quickly with a new tough law banning some of the guns used in the March 15 shooting.
Earlier on March 23, about 3,000 people walked through Christchurch in a "march for love" as the city seeks to heal from its tragedy.
Carrying placards with signs such as "He wanted to divide us, he only made us stronger", "Muslims welcome, racists not", and "Kia Kaha" - Maori for 'stay strong', people walked mostly in silence or softly sang a Maori hymn of peace.