Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 June 2019

Christchurch Mayor: We stand united with our Muslim brothers and sisters

Lianne Dalziel said the priority was to show solidarity with the people of all country affected and “seek forgiveness.”

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel receives a show of support from a woman nearby the Rolleston Ave vigil. Steve Addison / The National 
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel receives a show of support from a woman nearby the Rolleston Ave vigil. Steve Addison / The National 

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said terror had no place in Christchurch and that the community is united in condemning Friday’s mosque shooting, which left 50 people dead.

"There are people who are absolutely determined to divide our world, and they will only conquer us if we allow divisions to occur," Mrs Dalziel told The National.

"We stand united with our Muslim brothers and sisters."

Mrs Dalziel said the priority was to show solidarity with the people of all country affected and “seek forgiveness.”

Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, never experienced an act of this kind. The mayor said the attacker, who has been identified as 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was not a local but an Australian citizen who had “imported this hatred to Christchurch, because we are known as a safe country and city."

"In Christchurch, there is an absolute rejection of the hatred that lies behind the attacks," she said.

Mrs Dalziel said she was in a state of shock following the terrorist attack. "It still has not sunk in. Because of everything that has happened, we will all be in a state of shock for some time yet."

The mayor praised the emergency services for their work. It took 36 minutes from the first emergency call to the apprehension of the suspect.

"There was amazing bravery from emergency services and the two police officers who arrested the man," she said.

Mrs Dalziel received messages of support from mayors around the world including London and Manchester, which experienced similar tragedies.

She said she was heartened by the response of New Zealanders and the Christchurch community, which showed support for all those affected and great sorrow for the victims.

Dozens of people poured in on Saturday to pay tribute to the victims at a memorial erected opposite Hagley Park. Overhead, a helicopter circled the city as part of the police response, a constant reminder of the attacks.

Policemen armed with pistols and tasers patrolled the city, an unusual activity in an otherwise calm city. New Zealand police said security around mosques would remain tight.

A Fijian Muslim family that has recently settled in Christchurch from told The National they no longer feel safe in the city.

Fauzia Wahid, 43, said that while they were not at one of the two mosques at the time of the attacks, they knew many of those involved and were mourning the deaths of two friends from Bangladesh.

Eleven-year-old Zahra Wahid she spoke quietly when she said: "We are not safe, not really."

Nehaad Al Waiz, 23, who runs an electrical business in the city, said the community would not be intimidated by acts of terrorism.

"Whatever they did, it was to scare us. We will continue to pray [at the mosque], but we will be cautious," he said.

Mr Al Waiz said he was overwhelmed by the support the Christchurch community was showing. "Our neighbours have come and supported us and visited to see if we need anything," he said.

Updated: March 17, 2019 07:21 AM

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