Exactly a week ago, the world was shocked by the news of the shootings at two Christchurch mosques, in New Zealand, resulting in the deaths of 50 victims. World leaders condemned the act in response, as did popular celebrities, both international as well as local Malaysian personalities. Following that, citizens of New Zealand, which is often considered one of the safest and most peaceful countries in the world, were quick to show solidarity with their fellow countrymen. Essentially, the Kiwis were sending the message that this is not New Zealand, and they do not tolerate terrorism of any kind. They also wanted the world to know that New Zealand is still a safe place for everyone and anyone, and that all are welcome regardless of colour and creed, including Muslims. Many left flowers and tokens of support outside of mosques, not just in Christchurch but also other areas of New Zealand, to remember the 50 victims who died from the shootings.
The authorities have also stepped up, and provided security personnel to guide mosques during prayer hours. In fact, even members from the Waikato chapter of biker gang Mongrel Mob have been reported by stuff.co.nz to offer security to the Jamia Masjid Mosque in the city of Hamilton, which is about 950km away from Christchurch, to look out for them while Friday prayers are performed.
Today, funerals were held for a number of the victims, and the New Zealanders have come in droves to show their support for the congregations at Al Noor Mosque as well as Linwood Mosque, the two mosques where the shootings took place, about 5km apart. As a result of the incident, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a ban on military style semi-automatic and assault rifles in the country. Meanwhile, the biggest Mongrel Mob organisation, Mongrel Mob Kingdom have decided that they will no longer use the Nazi-related “sieg heil” phrase when greeting each other, which they only started using initially as a way to rebel against the establishment and authorities, reports Stuff NZ. Instead, members will acknowledge each other saying “Mongrel Mob”, says Mongrel Mob Kingdom president Paito Fatu.
New Zealanders are adamant about showing terrorists that they will not allowed an incidence such as this to break their community apart, and it shows in the outpouring of support, acceptance and understanding that they have displayed. We’d like to share some of the most heartwarming shows of togetherness following the tragedy, as a symbol and reminder that there is indeed hope in the world.
NZ Solidarity: In Pictures
The front cover of New Zealand newspaper The Press on Friday, 22 March, features the Arabic word and greeting Salam, meaning “Peace” along with the names of the victims of the deadly shooting.