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Fri Mar 22, 2019, 03:44 AM

New Zealand attack: Al Noor mosque imam tells world leaders to fight hate speech


New Zealand attack: Al Noor mosque imam tells world leaders to fight hate speech

Calla Wahlquist in Christchurch

Fri 22 Mar 2019 04.15 GMT

An imam who survived the terror attack at Al Noor mosque has declared New Zealand “unbreakable” in a sermon attended by thousands in Christchurch on Friday and called on world leaders eliminate hate speech, saying the massacre “did not come overnight”.

Speaking from a temporary stage set up in Hagley Park opposite the mosque, which is still surrounded by police tape a week after the attack, Imam Gamil Fouda said that in attempting to spread hate, the gunman who killed 50 people and injured 42 had instead sparked love and compassion.

The service followed a public call to prayer, which was broadcast on national radio and television and followed by a two-minute silence.

Survivors who were injured in the shooting sat in wheelchairs of the front row of the makeshift venue, while at the back, thousands of non-Muslim New Zealanders, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gathered wearing hijabs to show their respects. Later, Ardern addressed the crowd, saying: “New Zealand mourns with you, we are one.”

Heavily armed police officers stood guard around the outdoor prayer service, while helicopters flew overhead. Under legislation announced by Ardern on Thursday, police will soon be one of the only groups able to access the kind of assault rifles they carry.

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