- The Al Noor mosque was taken over by police for investigations and security reasons after the attack
- But it was handed back to the local Muslim community on Saturday and began allowing small groups onto its grounds
CHRISTCHURCH – New Zealander Muslims have returned to Christchurch’s main mosque on March 24 for the first time since an Australian terrorist massacred 50 Muslim worshippers on Friday 15, as New Zealand sought to return to normality after the tragedy, France24 reported on March 23.
“We’re allowing 15 people at a time, just to get some normality. I’m not in a place to say when it’s going to (fully) reopen,” said Saiyad Hassen, a volunteer at Al Noor Mosque.
The attacked mosque was taken over by police for investigations and security reasons after Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant attacked Muslims gathered there and at a smaller mosque for Friday prayers, killing 50 people and injuring more.
However, the mosque was handed back to the local Muslim community yesterday and began allowing small groups onto its grounds around midday.
Al Noor had remained closed partly so that workers could repair bullet-pocked walls and clean blood-spattered floors, and on Saturday, March 23 there was a little obvious indication of what took place there.
Now, no bullet holes could be seen and walls appeared to have been freshly painted. Inside, emotional Muslim visitors stood quietly as bright sunlight streamed through windows.
The terrorist attacks have shocked the Pacific country of 4.5 million population known for its tolerance and prompted global horror, heightened by Tarrant’s cold-blooded live-streaming of the massacre.
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.
There were also other signs of Christchurch moving forward from the trauma, with children seen playing cricket at a park across from the mosque and previously scheduled sporting events expected to go ahead this weekend.
In New Zealand, Islam is a minority religious affiliation, as small numbers of Muslim immigrants from South Asia and eastern Europe settled starting from the early 1900s until the 1960s.