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New Zealand opens mosques that have been attacked; many "march of love"

CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – The two mosques in the New Zealand town of Christchurch, where 50 men were killed last week, called for fresh paint, and on Saturday they reopened their doors. Many survivors entered there and prayed who died.

People participate in the "March for Love" at North Hagley Park following the mosque raids in Christchurch on March 23, 2019. REUTERS / Jorge Silva

In the Al Noor Mosque, more than 40 victims were killed by a presumptive white Supremacist, the prayers were resumed by local armed police, but no graphic reminders of the mass shooting, the worst in New Zealand.

Aden Diriye, who lost his three-year-old son Mucad Ibrahim during the attack, returned to the mosque with his friends.

"I'm very happy," he said after praying. "Allah is great for us. I was back as soon as we had rebuilt to pray.

Most of the victims of the shootout, who New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quickly denounced as a terrorist attack, were migrants or refugees whose deaths echoed in the Islamic world.

Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, who visited the Al Noor Mosque, said the attack attacked human dignity.

"This is a moment of deepest fear for all of us, humanity," he said.

The police said they reopened the nearby Linwood Mosque, the second one that was attacked during Friday prayers last week.

New Zealand has been threatened with an increased stringent security alert since the attack. Ardern quickly moved with a new, stringent law banning some of the guns used on March 15. [

Ashif Shaikh, who was on the day of the massacre at the Al Noor Mosque, where two of his roommates were killed and returned Saturday, said he would not be put off.

"It's the place where we pray, where we meet, we'll come back, yes," he said.

& # 39; MARCH FOR LOVE & # 39;

Earlier on Saturday, around 3,000 people went through Christchurch to make a "march of love" there while the city wants to heal its tragedy.

Posters with signs like "He wanted to share us, he only made us stronger," "Muslims are welcome, racists are not" and "Kia Kaha" – Maori for "Stay Strong", people mostly went in silence or quietly sang a Maori hymn of peace.

"We have the feeling that hatred has brought much darkness in times like this, and love is the strongest remedy to illuminate the city from this darkness," said Manaia Butler, 16, one of the student organizers of the march.

New Zealand and Ardern have been widely praised for radiating empathy and unity in response to the attacks. Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, thanked Ardern on Twitter late on Friday.

He published a photograph of Dubai's Burj Khalifaworld, the tallest building in the world illuminated with a magnified image of Ardern hugging a woman, and the Arabic word "salam" and the English translation "peace" above it.

"Thank you, @Japanindaardern and New Zealand for their sincere empathy and support, which has gained 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that has shaken the Muslim community around the world," he said on Twitter.

Muslims account for well over one percent of New Zealand's 4.8 million people, according to a 2013 census, most of which were foreign-born.

On Friday, the Muslim call to prayer was broadcast nationwide on television and radio. Around 20,000 people attended a prayer service in the park opposite the Al Noor mosque in a solidarity show.

Many women have also put on headscarves to show their support.

In Mekka, the holiest site of Islam, a special prayer was held after the Friday sermon for the victims of the raid, according to the Saudi news website Sabq.

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Most of the dead were buried on Friday at a mass burial in Christchurch when 26 victims were buried. Others were buried at private ceremonies or returned to their homelands for funerals.

Shahadat Hossain, whose brother Mojammel Haque was killed in the attack, told Reuters he would return his body to Bangladesh.

"I do not know when our family can get out of this grief," he said.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook, Joseph Campbell, Natasha Howitt and Jill Gralow in Christchurch, Hesham Hajali in Cairo, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Marwa Rashad in Riyadh; Letter from Lidia Kelly and Tom Wesbrook; Editing by Rosalba O & Brien

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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