unilad
Advert
Advert
Advert
Advert

Jacinda Ardern Unveils Memorial Plaque For 51 Christchurch Victims

by : Lucy Connolly on : 24 Sep 2020 13:02
Jacinda Ardern Unveils Memorial Plaque For 51 Christchurch VictimsJacinda Ardern Unveils Memorial Plaque For 51 Christchurch VictimsPA Images

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.

Advert

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.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveils a plaque at Christchurch mosqueNew Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveils a plaque at Christchurch mosquePA Images

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’.

Advert

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.’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveils a plaque at Christchurch mosqueNew Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveils a plaque at Christchurch mosquePA Images

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.

Advert

He said:

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.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveils a plaque at Christchurch mosqueNew Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveils a plaque at Christchurch mosquePA Images

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.

Advert

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.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.

Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: News, Christchurch, Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand, Terrorism

Credits

Stuff
  1. Stuff

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveils memorial at Christchurch's Masjid An-Nur