Jacinda Ardern Unveils Memorial Plaque For 51 Christchurch Victims
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has unveiled a memorial plaque dedicated to the victims of the Christchurch terror attack.
The country was shaken last year when white supremacist Brenton Tarrant opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, killing 51 people in an attack that Ardern previously described as one of the blackest days in New Zealand’s history.
Now, the prime minister has commemorated the victims with a plaque that she unveiled on Thursday, September 24, in the grounds of the Al Noor Mosque, where 44 people were killed last year. Seven others were murdered at the Linwood Islamic Centre the same day.
The plaque is placed just metres away from the flowers, pebbles and messages of support that have become a permanent fixture on the grounds since the terrorist attack, with New Zealand residents continuing to pay tribute to the lives lost 18 months later.
The mosque’s imam, Gamal Fouda, previously spoke of the need to have such a memorial so that future generations who did not witness the tragedy ‘can learn the lessons’ and so ‘the tragedy will not be forgotten’.
Speaking outside the mosque at the plaque’s unveiling, Fouda said the terrorist attack had been ‘one of the toughest times of our lives’, adding, as per Stuff, ‘No one could have ever imagined that this will happen in Aotearoa. We all thought New Zealand was safe.’
Despite the fact that day was one of the country’s darkest days though, Fouda said it also enabled New Zealand to become ‘the mother of peace in the world’.
‘We created a legacy through our response to this tragedy – that we grow on at this time,’ he added, while stressing the need for a specific law across the country to differentiate between freedom of speech and hate speech.
Is burning the holy Koran or the Bible, is that freedom of speech? If you are going to actually create problems and then say there is freedom of speech, sorry, freedom of speech is not hate speech.
I would like to see a new law in New Zealand to distinguish between them. The blood of those people shouldn’t be forgotten.
The unveiling comes less than one month after the terrorist responsible for the attacks was sentenced to an unprecedented life without parole, after pleading guilty to 51 counts of murder and 40 charges of attempted murder.
Tarrant also plead guilty to one charge of terrorism, the first terrorism conviction in New Zealand’s history, while he became the first person in the country’s history to receive the life without parole sentence.
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