Peace, unity and love mark terror attack anniversary

Three years on from a terror attack on Christchurch’s Muslim community, the community is helping build understanding.

Rather than Remembrance services, this year the Muslim community decided to mark the occasion differently.

Whānau Trust spokesman Rashid Bin Omar said Islamic Awareness Week aimed to spread peace, unity and love as opposed to the attacker’s aim to spread hate.

“The terrorist utterly failed.

“Three years later, here we are standing in the same mosque to honour the shuhaha (deceased), continue their legacy and remember the aroha and empathy that we received from the entire [country].”

The week marking the terror attack anniversary includes an Islamic art exhibition, speakers, children’s events, peace walks and feeding the hungry.

In a speech launching Islamic Awareness Week at the weekend, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel reminded attendees of the Call to Prayer one week after the attack, when thousands in the wider community came, uninvited, to show their support.

“It was the most powerful expression of solidarity I have ever witnessed.”

Dalziel said she hoped Islamic Awareness Week and Unity Week would become permanent fixtures on the Christchurch calendar.

Injured victim Hisham Al Zarzour – who still suffers pain from his hand injuries suffered that day at An Nur Masjid – supported the awareness week.

“It would give more open thinking. It’s a good way to stay together. When you don’t know about [Islam], there’s sometimes not good ideas.”

Al Zarzour was still haunted by that day, and he tried not to remember.

“We can remember the people, but for me to remember the 15th of March day….I live with the memories in my dreams almost every night.

“Because of that, I try to avoid thinking of the bad things, but the good things in my head and try to see the positive things happening.”

On March 15, 2019, self-proclaimed white supremacist Brenton Tarrant killed 51 Muslim people and injured dozens more at two Christchurch mosques.

The time since then has seen the exchanging of numerous community initiatives showing support and solidarity.


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