One year ago, a gunman attacked two Muslim religious centers in Christchurch, New Zealand killing more than 50 people.
People who knew some of those killed are marking the incident’s anniversary.
Aya al-Umari recently visited the Al Noor mosque where part of the attack took place. She looked at the flowers placed there and read messages of support. The flowers were left to honor the victims of the shootings.
Al-Umari’s 35-year-old brother Hussein was one of 51 Muslims killed when the gunman opened fire at the city’s Al Noor and Linwood mosques. More than 49 people were injured.
“We live it day in and day out,” she told Reuters outside the mosque.
She said, “A year-on anniversary is a great way for us to come together as a community and reflect on the incident that took the lives of many people…my brother too.”
Signs outside the Al Noor mosque read “We may be small, but we are strong” and “We love you!”
Australian Brenton Tarrant faces 92 charges in relation to the attacks, including terrorism and murder charges. He has pleaded not guilty and faces trial in June.
Police deployed to the mosque on Friday after a new threat was reported last week.
Adele Carroll and her husband Des came to the Al Noor mosque to donate a prayer mat and an Islamic clock.
“We are all one...it doesn’t matter what religion or race you are. We just could not believe this could happen in our country,” Carroll said.
Hundreds of people attended a prayer service at a community center in the city. Fewer people than expected attended because of concerns about the coronavirus.
There is a memorial service planned for Sunday, but it is unclear how many people will attend.
“One year has passed, but for us, it just feels like yesterday,” said Abdul Aziz. He was called a “hero” by local television and newspapers for trying to stop the shooting.
Taj Mohammad Kamran was shot in the leg. His friend was killed in the attack. He said it has been a difficult year. “But today I feel more strong,” he said.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr.was the editor.
Words In This Story
mosque– n.a place where Muslims pray
reflect– v. to consider or think about
plead– v.to answer a charge with guilty or not guilty
mat–n. a small rug