Candles arranged in a heart shape burn at a memorial site for victims of the mosque shootings at the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch on Sunday. Jorge Silva/Reuters
CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand Muslim leaders on Monday conveyed messages of love, compassion and appreciation for the community support they had received after a lone gunman attacked two mosques, killing 50 people and injuring dozens more.
Mustafa Farouk, the President of Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, said the community was in shock and mourning, but was resilient.
"We know we are living in a country that we are welcome, that loves us. One of the most beautiful and most peaceful countries in the world," he told a media conference in Christchurch, where the attack took place on Friday.
People light candles at an interfaith service in memory of those who lost their lives in the Christchurch mosque attacks at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on Sunday. Wendell Teodoro/AFP
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday. Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5 where police said he was likely to face more charges.
Farouk said the message for those who pedalled hatred was that they had "failed woefully".
"Because what they have done, if anything, is to increase the love and the feeling we have for our own country and we have also seen the tremendous outpouring of love, what we call aroha here in New Zealand."
“Those who pedalled hatred had failed woefully because what they have done, if anything, is to increase the love
Some families have expressed frustration that the bodies of almost all victims have not been released while authorities carry out post mortems and investigations.
Under Islam it is customary to conduct burials within 24 hours.
Rehanna Ali, coordinator of womens affairs’ Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, described the process of preparing the bodies for burial.
"These people died in prayer, on their way to prayer, on our holy day, a Friday, in the precincts of our holy places. And faith was what they died for. And so faith is now part of the healing process for their loved ones.”
"These people died in prayer, on their way to prayer, on a Friday, in the precincts of our holy places. And faith was what they died for. And so faith is now part of the healing process for their loved ones
Over the weekend and into Monday, tens of thousands of people flocked to memorial vigils around New Zealand and a victim support website raised more than NZ$5.5 million ($3.8 million).
Hundreds visited the sites of the shootings, performing songs, bringing flowers and food, and offering condolences.
"Through all of this we try to remember that what we are bringing back to this tragedy, this horror, is a sense of compassion," Ali told media. "The response to so much hate, has been love."
His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has given directions for the appointment of 389 university and high school graduates. This came during His Highness’ intervention via the Direct Line Programme broadcast live on Sharjah Radio. His Highness directed that 25 university and high school graduates be assigned in Geological Park in Al Fayha, 30 in Wildlife Centre in Al Dhaid, 32 in Al Qarm Centre in Kalba, while 300 high school graduates be appointed in Sharjah Safari in Al Dhaid.
More than 200 students from all Pakistani schools in the UAE have attended and participated in a day-long Science Fair held at Pakistan Association Dubai.
The Dubai Public Prosecution referred a 27-year-old GCC employee to trial on charges of forced theft, impersonation of detectives and seizing Dhs3,000 and two phones from a person.
In honour of International Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Ambulance Youth Council recently organised an awareness session entitled “Get Checked today!” in collaboration with Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women and Children, which was held at National Ambulance Headquarters in Abu Dhabi.