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Christchurch attacks: Victims honoured with national memorial service

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A memorial service has been held in Christchurch, New Zealand, and screened around the nation, to honour the 50 victims of the 15 March shootings.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke at the televised event, along with Muslim leaders and a survivor of the attack.

Cat Stevens, the British singer who converted to Islam in the 1970s, also performed.

More than 20,000 people attended the event at the city’s Hagley Park, amid tight security.

Addressing the crowd in the park near the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 people were killed earlier this month, Ms Ardern said New Zealand had “a responsibility to be the place we wish to be”.

“We are not immune to the viruses of hate, of fear, of other. We never have been,” she said, “but we can be the nation that discovers the cure”.

In all, 50 people died on 15 March when a white supremacist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, while livestreaming part of his attack on Facebook.

Ms Arden described how the world had been “stuck in a vicious cycle of extremism breeding extremism” but said “the answer lies in our humanity”.

Wearing a Maori cloak, she received a standing ovation as she took to the stage.

Dozens of government representatives from around the world attended the memorial, including the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.

Farid Ahmed, who survived the attack by a far-right gunman but whose wife Husna was killed, made a plea for peace. He said he had forgiven the gunman.

“I don’t want a heart that is boiling like a volcano,” he said. “I want a heart that will be full of love and care, and will have mercy.”

 

 

Source: BBC

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