CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – About 3,000 people walked through Christchurch in a ‘march for love’ early on Saturday, honoring the 50 worshippers massacred in the New Zealand city a week ago, as the mosques where the shooting took place reopened for prayers.
Carrying placards with signs such as, “He wanted to divide us, he only made us stronger”, “Muslims welcome, racists not”, and “Kia Kaha” – Maori for ‘stay strong’, people walked mostly in silence or softly sang a Maori hymn of peace.
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“We feel like hate has brought a lot of darkness at times like this and love is the strongest cure to light the city out of that darkness,” said Manaia Butler, 16, one of the student organizers of the march.
With armed police on site, the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 of the victims were killed by a suspected white supremacist, reopened on Saturday. Police said they were reopening the nearby Linwood mosque as well.
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“It is the place where we pray, where we meet, we’ll be back, yeah,” Ashif Shaikh told reporters outside the Al Noor mosque. He said he was there on the day of the shooting in which two of his housemates were killed.
Most victims of the country’s worst mass shooting were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
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At Saturday’s march security was heavy, with dozens of armed police officers and buses parked sideways across city streets to close them off for the march.
Shila Nair, a migrant from India who works for a migrant advocacy group called Shakti, traveled from Auckland to take part in the march.
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“The support gives us hope and optimism that migrant and refugee communities in this country can have a level playing field,” she said.
“We appreciate the...
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