New Zealand Pauses For Two Minutes’ Silence And Nationwide Call To Prayer

New Zealand today came to a standstill for two minutes’ silence, as the nation reflected on the fifty lives lost in last week’s terror attack on Christchurch.

A crowd of thousands, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, gathered this morning in Hagley Park – across from Al Noor mosque, where a gunman killed scores of Muslim worshippers last Friday.

It was from there that a call to prayer was broadcast live to the nation on television and radio, inviting all New Zealanders to contemplate the senseless loss of life.

Imam Gamal Fouda addressed the crowd, saying those killed did not die in vain.

“Their blood has watered the seeds of hope. Through them, the world will see the beauty of Islam and the beauty of our unity,” he said.

He said those worshippers did not die representing just Islam, but the nation as a whole.

“They were the best of us, taken from us on the best of days, in the best of places, and performing the best of actions.

“They are not just martyrs of Islam, but they are martyrs of this nation, New Zealand.”

He thanked Ardern for her leadership after the incident, including her sincere compassion for the victims and her government’s swift move to ban the firearms used in the attack.

“It has been a lesson for the world’s leaders,” he said.

“Thank you for holding our families close and honouring us with a simple scarf. Thank you for your words and tears of compassion. Thank you for being one with us.”

Imam Fouda reportedly concluded his speech by asserting the ongoing risk of white supremacist ideologies, and repeating “aroha” – the Maori word for “love.” 

Funerals for those killed in the attack began this week. Preparations to reopen the mosque are ongoing.