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Call to prayer rings out across New Zealand a week after mosque attacks

People react near Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 17, 2019.
People react near Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

New Zealand has marked one week since the Christchurch mosque attacks that killed 50 people, with the Muslim call to prayer ringing out across the country followed by two minutes of nationwide silence.  

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Thousands, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and wounded survivors, stood in a park opposite the mosque where the killing began, as the nation of 4.5 million came to a standstill.

New Zealand is still in shock following the rampage by an Australian white supremacist, who had hoped to foment an ethnic war with his attacks.

But horrified Kiwis have responded with outpourings of love, with many embracing their Muslim neighbours on Friday in moving scenes across the country.

#HeadScarfforHarmony

Women across New Zealand wore makeshift hijabs in a show of sympathy and solidarity. 

Rafaela Stoakes, a 32-year-old mother of two, said wearing the Islamic head covering gave her an insight into what it means to stand out and feel part of the minority.

"It is amazing how different I felt for the short time I was out this morning," Stoakes told AFP. "I did feel a sense of pride to honour my Muslim friends, but I also felt very vulnerable and alone as I was the only person wearing one."

"It must take a lot of courage to do this on a daily basis."

She was one of many who embraced the #HeadScarfforHarmony, to make a stand against the hate espoused by the shooter.

Headscarves were also worn as a mark of respect by policewomen and non-Muslim volunteers directing the crowds around the site in Christchurch.

New Zealand prays and falls silent for Mosque victims

Show of unity

Bikers stood guard outside mosques as Muslims took part in their first Friday prayer since the massacre. Gangs like the Mongrel Mob, King Cobra, and the Black Power promised to protect their local Muslim communities across the country.

New Zealand is a country in shock and mourning, but those who turned out for Friday prayers – both Muslim and non-Muslim – showed that all Kiwis stood together. 

"The country is united in this and nothing is ever going to break it," Christchurch local John Dale, 59, said, accompanied by his partner Shirley, who had decided to wear a white headscarf.

"We'll stand behind each other – anyone. Muslims, Christian, any religion."

(with AFP)

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