Hundreds gather at Ponsonby mosque for two-minute silence for terror attacks


Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, thanked Jacinda Ardern on Friday for her "sincere empathy" following the attack on two New Zealand mosques that killed 50 Muslims.

"Thank you PM Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand for your honest empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world".

Khalid Mustafa and his 15-year-old son Hamza were the first of 50 victims in the shootings at two mosques in the southern New Zealand city to be buried on Wednesday.

"You may have chosen us", Ardern said last week, the anger rising in her voice as she condemned the suspect in Friday's attacks.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led about 5,000 people standing quietly at Hagley Park in front of the Al Noor mosque, where most of the victims died.

The national mourning and moment of silence were broadcast on television networks, radio and across multiple local media websites.

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"We are so happy that this prayer will be broadcast to the entire world so that everyone can be part of it", Mustafa Farouk, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, said in a statement announcing the prayer session.

The Al Noor mosque remains closed as workers fix bullet-pocked walls and clean blood-spattered floors.

People are invited to form a "ring of peace" around the mosques.

Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand's population.

Another post tagged to Ardern and the New Zealand Police had the same photo with "next it's you".

Following the memorial more than 5000 people made their way to the Memorial Park Cemetery for the mass burial of 26 mosque victims, and another man who died returning to his Dunedin home after mourning his uncle's death with family.

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"We are brokenhearted, but we are not broken". He thanked Ardern for her compassion.

Salwa Mustafa lost a husband and son to a white supremacist gunman in the Al Noor Mosque, but the Syrian refugee had a defiant message for the world a week after the tragedy.

One of them, "Headscarf for Harmony", was organized by medical doctor Thaya Ashman of Auckland, who has spent time working in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us", Imam Gamal Fouda told the crowd, many wearing headscarves in support of the grieving Muslim community.

While security has been stepped up at mosques across Britain amid a police investigation into the incidents in Birmingham, Muslims in the United Kingdom say more needs to be done to prevent such attacks from happening.

'We value them as humans and we appreciate that they value us too, ' he said.

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