Thousands Flock To Christchurch Park For Nationwide Day Of Remembrance

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for an end to the “vicious cycle of extremism breeding extremism” during a national remembrance service to honour those killed in the Christchurch terror attack two weeks ago.

Christchurch’s Hagley Park was packed with thousands on Friday morning, as New Zealanders and international representatives – including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition leader Bill Shorten –  paid their respects.

Broadcast live to other services held across the country, “Ko Tātou, Tātou We Are One”, featured an address from Ardern and survivor of the attack Farid Ahmed, as well as a performance from Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens).

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What words express the grief of a city that has already known so much pain? I thought there were none. Then I came here and was met with a simple greeting – as-salamu alaykum, peace be upon you,” said Ardern.

“Even the ugliest of viruses can exist in places they are not welcome. Racism exists but it is not welcome here. An assault on the freedom of anyone to practice their religion is not welcome here.”

Ardern asked New Zealanders to be the nation that found a cure for the “viruses” of hate and fear, saying the cycle of extremism breeding extremism across the world had to be shut down.

Survivor of the Al Noor Mosque attack, Farid Ahmed, was brought on to the stage in a wheelchair and said he “could not hate anyone.”

“I have faith,” he said. “I believe in Allah and Allah says that if we forgive one another, then he loves me, he loves us.”