20,000 attend memorial for victims of New Zealand mosque attack

April FrancisMar 31, 2019

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern places her hand over her heart as she walks past family of those lost during a national remembrance ceremony at North Hagley Park in Christchurch on March 29, 2019.

The massacre in Christchurch was carried out by a lone gunman, a suspected white supremacist, during Friday prayers at two mosques.

The Duke will meet with those affected by the attack in March and will "pay tribute to the extraordinary compassion and solidarity that the people of New Zealand have displayed in recent weeks". But the atmosphere was relaxed during the 90-minute commemoration held on a sunny morning in Hagley Park.

Performers during the ceremony included Yusuf Islam, also known as Cat Stevens, who performed his song "Peace Train".

"If you give comfort to people who have extremist views, then this is how it ends", she said, referring to the events of March 15.

Ardern, who has been widely hailed for her response to the tragedy and received a prolonged standing ovation when she took the stage, praised the way New Zealanders had embraced their devastated Muslim community since the attacks.

"Those actions were created to divide us and tear us apart", she said.

"I have chosen peace, I have chosen love, and I have forgiven", said Ahmed, who was wounded in the attack.

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I don't want to have a heart that is boiling like a volcano with anger, fury and rage.

The New Zealand PM's actions reflected true leadership which was much needed at a time when only the strongest and the fittest survive by overpowering the weak.

The suspect in the attack, identified as 28-year-old Australian national Brenton Tarrant, was detained and has been since charged with murder and put into custody.

"There are the laws we need now, to ensure that social media is not weaponised", Morrison told reporters after the service.

Ardern will address the service, which has the theme "We Are One" and will be broadcast on national television.

Thousands more were expected to attend a service at Auckland's Eden Park on Friday afternoon.

Act Party leader David Seymour described it as a "rushed process" that would "deny the public the chance to have their say". Muslim volunteers, some of whom had traveled from Australia and Asia, handed out pamphlets with information about Islam as crowds left the park after the service.

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