Thousands of Muslims gathered together to pray for those killed in New Zealand, despite the currently increased threat of an act of terror.
Shootings at two mosques in Christchurch saw at least 49 people killed and dozens more seriously injured as a gunman opened fire during Friday prayers, March 15.
The BBC report it was the deadliest attack in the history of New Zealand, the country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, described the incident as terrorism.
She added in a statement:
I want to send a message to those directly affected…For many this may have not been the place they were born. For many New Zealand was their choice, a place they actively came to and committed themselves to…it was a place where many came to for their safety. A place where it was safe to practice their culture and religion.
We represent diversity and compassion, a home for those who share our values, a refuge for those who need it. And those values will not and can not be shaken by this attack.
Authorities are taking extra precautions following the attacks, with police patrolling UK mosques and officers surrounding Lakemba mosque in Sydney’s south-west to ensure those attending Friday evening prayers were safe.
Despite the increasing terror threat, more than 1000 Muslims gathered at the Australian mosque to pray for those who were injured and lost their lives in the horrific New Zealand attack.
People even gathered on the street as the place of worship filled:
Truly extraordinary scene at Lakemba mosque tonight. Worshippers spilling on to the street. Deep sense of sadness and mourning. A number of politicians here in support inc @DavidColemanMP @michaeldaleyMP @GladysB @JasonClareMP and many more. @7NewsSydney #TheLatest pic.twitter.com/PeCTURhcOC
— Alex Hart (@alexhart7) March 15, 2019
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, a young woman outside the Lakemba mosque said:
I’m confused as to how and why someone would do this [terrorist attack].
It’s more important than ever for us to attend prayers. Now is the most important time. It’s always been an issue but nothing’s been done. It’s the most important time to stand together.
Inside the mosque. Pleas for calm from all. Attack “Not acceptable.. beyond any imagination”. pic.twitter.com/tI7J50ddEg
— Alex Hart (@alexhart7) March 15, 2019
A speaker at the mosque reportedly told the crowd:
People are very extremist in their thinking. They want revenge from nothing. They think by doing something like that is revenge.
We need our government to take some action. We need to see our politicians and police doing their job in a good way. We put our hands with our politicians especially the good ones.
This is an act of terror targeted towards Muslims at the time of their prayers. Not going to close the doors of our mosques and we’ll continue our daily prayers. We’ll stand in solidarity.
According to The Independent, Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Neil Basu spoke about added protection around UK mosques, saying:
Today we will be stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques and increasing engagement with communities of all faith, giving advice on how people and places can protect themselves.
A man in his 20s has been charged with murder, and three other people were also arrested following the shootings.
If you’re concerned and need to contact a friend or relative please visit the International Committee of the Red Cross, who have set up a website by which you can restore links and register your own safety.
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.