A New Zealand 95-year-old pensioner jumped on four buses to show solidarity and support for the Muslim community following the Christchurch terrorist attack.
“I stayed awake quite a lot of the night and I didn’t sleep too well ever since, you know. I thought it was sad. You can feel the suffering of other people,” John Sato told Radio New Zealand.
“I think it is such a tragedy and, yet it has the other side. It has put people together. ‘It doesn’t matter what their race or anything. People have suddenly realized we are all one. We care for each other.”
Terrorist Brenton Harrison Tarrant killed 50 Muslim worshippers in Friday’s attacks as he targeted Al Noor and Linwood mosques.
Sato, one of only two Kiwi-Japanese servicemen in the New Zealand army during the Second World War, visited a mosque near his home to show support after the March 15 terror attack.
Over the weekend, he left his home in Hardwicke and took the bus to another mosque in Pakuranga, where he saw tribute messages and flowers in honor of the victims.
That’s when he decided to take transfer buses to join the rally in Auckland.
He said a ‘kind’ policeman gave him a bottle of water and ‘took me all the way home’ where he helped him to get upstairs.
New Zealand came together on Friday, March 22, to support the Muslim community as national TV aired adhan and Jum`ah prayer for the first time.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined thousands of mourners near the Al-Noor mosque, one of two places of worship targeted in last Friday’s terrorist attacks.
Earlier, Ardern encouraged as many New Zealanders as possible to use the day to pause and reflect.
Nationwide ceremonies saw poignant scenes of Kiwis embracing Muslims, and of non-Muslim New Zealand women donning makeshift Islamic headscarves in solidarity.
A day earlier, the country outlawed, at last, the military-style rifles used in the assault with immediate effect.