A little more than a week after a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, the places of worship have re-opened.
At the Al Noor mosque Saturday, where 40 of the 50 victims were killed, there was very little physical evidence of the horrific event.
Fresh paint and plaster covered up signs of gunshots and new windows replaced the ones smashed by worshippers who tried to escape the siege by a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist.
“To feel that this form of violence and cruelty is visited on you, living in this idyllic part of the world, is deeply, deeply moving,” said Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, one among the hundreds who visited Al Noor.
Among the mosque visitors Saturday were survivors of the attack and people who knew the victims.
“Those who lost their families are of course quite emotional,” said Shagat Khan, the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury. “And those who were present here during the incident, of course the memories come back. The flashbacks.”
March for Love
Earlier in Christchurch Saturday, there was a March For Love with people walking mostly in silence. One demonstration sign read: “Muslims welcome, Racists not.”
“We feel like hate has brought a lot of darkness at times like this and love is the strongest cure to light the city out of that darkness,” said Manala Butler, 16, one of the student organizers of the march.
On Friday, there was a mass funeral for 26 of the victims.
There was also a Muslim call to prayer Friday in a ceremony in a park near the Al Noor mosque that was broadcast on radio and television, followed by two minutes of silence.
Officials say at least two people who were related to victims of the attacks have died. One woman who had arrived from Jordan after her son was killed died over night Saturday. And a police official told the French News Agency (AFP) that another relative had also died, but gave no details.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has received wide praise for her support of the Muslim community following the shootings. Ardern donned a headscarf to visit those affected by the shootings, in the tradition of Muslim women, a move that prompted other New Zealand women to do the same thing.
The New Zealand government has imposed a ban on all military-style semi-automatic and automatic assault rifles.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktou, Dubai’s leader, thanked Ardern on Twitter Friday night.
He also posted a photo of Ardern imposed on Dubai’s Burj Khalifaword, the world’s tallest building. The photo shows the prime minister hugging a woman with the Arabic word “salam” and the English translation “peace” above them.
New Zealand authorities have charged 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant with murder in connection with the March 15 attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques. The self-proclaimed white nationalist did not enter a plea in his initial court appearance the day after the attack. His next court appearance is April 5.