Tributes hang on the fence outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 22, 2019. In a day without precedent in New Zealand, people across the country were planning to observe the Muslim call to prayer as the nation reflected on the moment one week ago when 50 people were slaughtered at two mosques. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Family of slain boy visits Christchurch mosque as it reopens

Hundreds of people stopped at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch to lay flowers or pray

A Jordanian prince and the family of a slain 3-year-old boy and were among those who visited a New Zealand mosque Saturday when it reopened for the first time since a terrorist killed dozens of people there.

Hundreds of people stopped at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch to lay flowers or pray after police removed a cordon and those running the mosque decided to reopen.

Inside the mosque, there were few signs of the carnage from eight days earlier. Crews had replaced windows that worshippers smashed in a desperate attempt to escape when the attacker mowed them down during Friday prayers. Bullet holes were plastered over and painted. There wasn’t time to replace the carpet, which was pulled out and buried because it was soaked in blood.

Shagat Khan, the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, said they hadn’t planned to open the mosque so soon but when they saw the crowds gathering after the police cordon was removed they decided to allow people to enter in managed groups “so the mosque will be alive again.”

“Those who lost their families are of course quite emotional,” he said. “And those who were present here during the incident, of course the memories come back. The flashbacks.”

The gunman killed a total of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, in the nation’s worst terrorist attack. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder in the attacks and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on April 5.

Abdullahi Ibrahim Diriye, the uncle of the youngest victim of the shooting, 3-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim, visited the mosque with the boy’s father. Diriye said he helped lift the boy’s coffin to a gravesite Friday as Mucaad’s mother wept. The coffin was very light with such a young child inside, he said.

“Always he was a happy boy, and he liked every person he met, not only Muslims,” Diriye said.

READ MORE: Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

READ MORE: After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, who travelled to New Zealand to pay his respects, hugged a man at the entrance of the mosque and told him to “be patient.”

“He was crying deeply from his heart for a loved one he had lost,” the prince later explained. “And I was saying, this is God’s will, be patient. Because only through patience can you endure.”

Prince Hassan said in the Middle East there have been wars every decade.

“To feel that this form of violence and cruelty is visited on you, living in this idyllic part of the world, is deeply, deeply moving,” he said.

Human dignity is being assailed on all fronts by extremists, he said, and people need to stand together as human beings.

Officials say four Jordanian nationals died in the attack, while a 4-year-old Jordanian girl is also recovering in an Auckland hospital.

Jereeth Abdeen, who was visiting from Auckland, said a friend of his escaped the attack. He said he found it hard to walk through the mosque, especially after glimpsing the gunman’s livestream of the attack after it was sent to him on social media before quickly closing out of the link.

“It’s terrible,” he said. “Nobody should do that in this world.”

Abdeen said he took some comfort that those killed were in a holy place and were about to pray.

“The sad thing is the way they died,” he said. “But our belief is they will be in paradise.”

Nick Perry, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In the summer of 1950, a dramatic highway sign made an impact

The Manning Park Gallows featured a 10-foot-long cigarette in a noose to warn about forest fires

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Sunflower Highway, art initiative to connect Fraser Valley, Thompson-Nicola and Okanagan

Sunflowers made out of reclaimed materials will be installed on public art trails

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read