New Zealand Falls Silent for Muslim Call to Prayer

'New Zealand mourns with you. We are one'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 22, 2019 5:19 AM CDT
Updated Mar 22, 2019 6:21 AM CDT
New Zealand Falls Silent for Muslim Call to Prayer
Muslims pray during Friday prayers at Hagley Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 22, 2019   (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

New Zealanders observed the Muslim call to prayer Friday in reflecting on the moment one week ago when 50 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques were slain—an act that an imam told the crowd of thousands had left the country broken-hearted but not broken. In a day without precedent, people across New Zealand listened to the call to prayer on live broadcasts while thousands, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, gathered in leafy Hagley Park opposite the Al Noor mosque, where 42 people died, the AP reports. "New Zealand mourns with you. We are one," Ardern said. Says 33-year-old Christchurch native Fahim Imam, who returned home for the services, "the moment I landed in Christchurch, I could feel the love here. I've never felt more proud to be a Muslim, or a Kiwi for that matter."

The Al Noor mosque's imam, Gamal Fouda, thanked New Zealanders for their support. "This terrorist sought to tear our nation apart with an evil ideology. ... But, instead, we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable," the imam said. "We are broken-hearted but we are not broken. We are alive. We are together. We are determined to not let anyone divide us," he added, as the crowd the city estimated at 20,000 people erupted with applause. Later in the day, a mass funeral was held to bury 26 of the victims at a cemetery where more than a dozen already have been laid to rest. The burials included the youngest victim, 3-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim. (On Thursday, Ardern announced sweeping changes to the nation's gun laws.)

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