New Zealand observes silence on completing a week of Christchurch shootings

Christchurch: New Zealand observed few moments of silence on Friday as it marked a week since the twin mosque shootings in Christchurch that claimed 50 lives on March 15.

Around 20,000 people from across the nation participated in the weekly Friday prayers, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, outside Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, Al Jazeera reported.

Al Noor is one of the two mosques that was targeted during the worst terror attack on New Zealand, allegedly carried out by 28-year-old Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, apart from the Linwood mosque.

Ardern briefly quoted Prophet Muhammad while addressing the crowd prior to the prayers. She said, “When any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels pain.New Zealand mourns with you, we are one.”

Among the attendees of Friday’s prayer, many women opted to wear headscarves in a show of solidarity with the Muslim community.

Religious leader at the Al Noor mosque, Imam Gamal Fouda, a witness of last week’s terror attack, told worshipers that he “saw hatred and rage in the eyes of the terrorist”.

“Today, from the same place, I look out and I see the love of and compassion in the eyes of thousands of fellow New Zealanders and human beings from across the globe,” Fouda said.

“We have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable, and the world can see in us an example of love and unity. We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken,” he added.

Mosques across the country were shut down last week by the authorities following the terror attacks. They are now opened for worshippers but amid heavy vigilance provided by the police.

Ardern’s government also implemented an immediate ban on the sale of assault rifles and semi-automatics to prevent more acts of terror and mass shooting in the country.