“Brothers and sisters in Islam, brothers and sisters in humanity, brothers and sisters in New Zealand,” imam Gamal Fouda, who was delivering the sermon in Christchurch‘s Al Noor Mosque when the terrorist attacked, said as he led the prayer.
“Last Friday I stood in this mosque and saw hatred and rage in the eyes of the terrorist who killed and martyred 50 innocent people, wounded 42, and broke the hearts of millions around the world.
“Today, from the same place, I look out and I see the love and compassion in the eyes of thousands of fellow New Zealanders, and human beings from across the globe, that fill the hearts of millions more that are not with us physically, but in spirit.
“This terrorist sought to tear our nation apart with an evil ideology that has torn the world apart. But instead, we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable and that the world can see in us.”
Fouda said the gunman “broke the hearts of millions around the world”.
“Today, from the same place, I look out and I see the love and compassion,” he said.
“We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us.”
PM Quotes Prophet Muhammad
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.
In an address beforehand, Ardern said: “New Zealand mourns with you, we are one.”
“According to the Prophet Muhammad… the believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels pain.”
Earlier, Ardern encouraged as many New Zealanders as possible to use the day to pause and reflect.
“I know many New Zealanders wish to mark the week that has passed since the terrorist attack and to support the Muslim community as they return to mosques,” she said.
“How we choose to reflect during the silence will be different for each of us. Everyone should do what feels right for them, wherever they are – at home, at work, at school.”
As Muslims observed prayers in Hagley Park, near the Al-Noor mosque, thousands of New Zealanders gathered to mark Friday’s national day of reflection for the victims, with many non-Muslim women donning hijab.
“People will be rethinking how they react, how they think, and how they speak sometimes – it’s penetrated to that level of society,” one observer, John Clark, said, adding that the message was profound.
“We like to think that we’re a liberal community, but we know that there are dark parts,” said Clark, 72.
“It will positively affect New Zealand and maybe we’ll have even more to offer the world.”
“It’s all been deeply saddening,” she told me, “but I feel positive about the way this has brought us all together.”
Many mosques across the country are opening their doors to visitors, and human chains will be formed outside some in symbolic acts of protection and support.
A mass funeral is being held for 30 of the dead, including the youngest victim Mucaad Ibrahim, aged three, who was killed at the Al-Noor mosque.