“In memory of the 51 Shuhadah [martyrs] who lost their lives.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has unveiled a memorial plaque to the 51 worshippers killed in last year’s Christchurch mosque terror attacks.
Donning hijab in a show of support to Muslims, Ardern took part in a somber ceremony at Al Noor mosque on Thursday morning as she visited Christchurch for the first time since the sentencing of Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant last month, Stuff reported.
The plaque is just metres from the dozens of flowers, pebbles bearing messages of aroha and notes of support that have themselves become a permanent tribute to what happened.
Speaking outside the mosque at the unveiling, Al-Nour mosque imam Gamal Fouda said the terrorist attack had for so many been “one of the toughest times of our lives”.
“No one could have ever imagined that this will happen in Aotearoa. We all thought New Zealand was safe.”
“We created a legacy through our response to this tragedy – that we grow on at this time.”
The imam made two requests to the PM, asking for a national day of commemoration and hate speech laws which specifically included religion.
“Is burning the holy Koran or the bible, is that freedom of speech? If you are going to actually create problems and then say there is freedom of speech, sorry, freedom of speech is not hate speech,” he said.
“I would like to see a new law in New Zealand to distinguish between them. The blood of those people shouldn’t be forgotten.”
Ardern said she was ‘pleased to see some old friends’ at the mosque.
“I’ve seen people’s recovery which has taken some time,” she said.
“And to see for instance, some who have previously struggled with walking who are walking, some who talked about the pain having lessened physically. That shows the time that has passed but I don’t think anything’s quite going to heal what happened there.”