Two weeks after the racially motivated attack on two mosques, 50 of them were killed in a major memorial service in Christchurch. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called on more than 20,000 guests to counter humanity’s extremism. The memorial service, which also included guests from abroad, was broadcast on large screens throughout the country. The names of all the dead were also read out.
In the March 15 attack, 50 people were killed and several dozen injured in shots in New Zealand’s third-largest city. As a suspected perpetrator sits a 28-year-old racist and right-wing extremist from Australia in custody. The man, who has lived in New Zealand for several years, faces life imprisonment. He will be presented to an investigating judge next week. There is no date for the process yet.
Ardern did not wear a headscarf this time, as she had done on previous occasions in honor of the Muslim community. She wore a cloak, as used by New Zealand’s Maori aborigines, and spoke a few sentences in Arabic. She thanked the Muslims for “opening their doors to all of us in the face of hatred and violence so that we can mourn with them – even though they had every right to express their anger.”
The Prime Minister continued, “The world is trapped in a vicious circle of extremism that produces even more extremism. That has to end. We can not do it alone. The answer lies in our humanity. “Many people stood up to applaud. Even abroad, Ardern had received much praise for their appearance in recent days. A week ago New Zealand had already thought with two minutes of silence of the victims.
One of the survivors, Farid Ahmed, whose wife had been killed in the attack, spoke in front of the crowd in Christchurch. The Muslim said he forgave the assassin. “People ask me, how can you forgive someone who killed your beloved wife? The answer is: I think so. I believe in Allah. Allah says we should forgive one another. “Two girls, whose father had been shot, spoke briefly to the crowd. The invited guests included Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
At the service also the British singer Yusuf Islam (formerly: Cat Stevens) appeared, who had already converted to Islam in the 1970s. He sang “Peace Train”, one of his best-known songs from the past. The memorial service took place in the open air park in Christchurch, in the immediate vicinity of Al-Nur Mosque, where the attack began two weeks ago.