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A
Agencies
March 21, 2019

New Zealand to broadcast Azaan in solidarity with Muslims

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A
Agencies
March 21, 2019

CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday said the nation will observe a two-minute silence in memory of the Christchurch martyrs and the Azaan (the call to prayer) will be broadcast nationally on Friday (tomorrow) in solidarity with the Muslim community.

Speaking to media on her second visit to Christchurch, Ardern said, “There is a desire to show support to the Muslim community as they return to mosques, particularly on Friday.”

“To acknowledge this there will be a two minutes’ silence on the same day. We will also broadcast nationally, via TVNZ and RNZ, the Azaan,” she added.

Ardern said that the government is planning a memorial service for the Christchurch martyrs, adding that it wants to involve the rest of New Zealand too. Fifty people died in the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch after a lone attacker opened fire during Friday prayers on March 15. An Australian white supremacist gunman was charged for the killing.

Hundreds of mourners gathered in a Christchurch cemetery for the first funerals of those martyred in the twin mosque massacre as New Zealanders braced for days of emotional farewells following the mass slayings.

The majority of victims from Friday’s attack in the South Island city were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The youngest was a boy of three, born in New Zealand to Somali refugee parents.

The first two victims buried, father and son Khaled and Hamza Mustafa, came from war-torn Syria.

“I cannot tell you how gutting it is...a family came here for safety and they should have been safe here,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, visiting the city for the second time since the massacre.

Wrapped in white cloth, the bodies were laid to face Makkah, and, after jenazah (funeral) prayers, were carried towards their freshly dug graves.

“Seeing the body lowered down, it was a very emotional time for me,” said Gulshad Ali, who had traveled from Auckland to attend the first funeral.

Several mounds of dirt piled high marked the site of multiple graves which will be used for New Zealand’s worst mass shooting.

Hundreds gathered to mourn, some men wearing a taqiyah (skullcap), others in shalwar kameez (long tunic and trousers), while women wore hijabs and scarfs. People from other religions were also in attendance.

Heavily armed police stood watch with flowers tucked in their revolver holsters and attached to their high powered rifles. Six victims were buried on Wednesday, with more expected during the week. Authorities say they are doing all they can to speed up autopsies and the formal identification of those killed.

Police commissioner Mike Bush said that the process had been slow because of the need to identify victims conclusively and to avoid hindering the prosecution.

In a briefing on Wednesday, he said he hoped a further six bodies would be returned to families by midday.

So far 21 victims have been formally identified by the coroners, he added.

“We are doing all we can to undertake this work as quickly as possible and return the victims to their loved ones,” police said in a statement.

“While identification may seem straightforward the reality is much more complex, particularly in a situation like this.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for a global response to the dangers of social media.

Facebook said the livestream from Christchurch was viewed fewer than 200 times but it had to remove a staggering 1.5 million videos as footage of the slaughter went viral. Ardern said while her focus was on the people of New Zealand, there were issues world leaders needed “to confront collectively”.

“We cannot, for instance, just simply deal with some of the issues we face with our social media to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

“There is an argument there to be made for us to take a united front on a global issue.

“This is not just an issue for New Zealand, the fact that social media platforms have been used to spread violence (and) material that incites violence. All of us need to present a united front.”

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