TODAY |

Ardern helps unveil mosque plaque in memory of 51 Christchurch terrorist attack victims

Jacinda Ardern today unveiled a plaque at Al Noor Mosque, where imam Gamal Fouda spoke of the legacy created through the response to the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attack. 

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The mosque was one of the two targeted in the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attack. Source: 1 NEWS

Fifty-one people were killed last year during the attacks at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Mosque. 

The plaque reads: "In memory of the 51 shuhadah (martyrs) who lost their lives 15 March 2019.

"We surely belong to Allah and to him we shall return."

Al Noor's imam, Gamal Fouda, spoke prior to the unveiling. 

"The March 15 terror attack and the coronavirus will continue to change the way we live, but we must not allow them to change who we are as people of Aotearoa," he said. 

"For all of us, the March 15 terror attack was one of the toughest times of our lives. We all thought New Zealand was safe. 

"Although 15th of March was one of the darkest days of New Zealand...it also branded New Zealand as the mother of peace. We created a legacy through our response to this tragedy. That is our legacy." 

He acknowledged the attack "created fear and left a scar on our hearts, especially the New Zealand Muslim community".

"Our children ask us if New Zealand is safe for them. We must not let that fear overtake us. Instead, we must focus on what we can do to keep our country safe." 

He said justice could be achieved through never forgetting the 51 victims, for an annual conference to be held to "document the tragedy and its painful repercussions and to explain the danger of hate speech", and for New Zealand to "lead the world in enacting clear legislation that draws a clear line between the freedom of speech and hate speech". 

Ardern was presented with a head scarf when she arrived, greeting people with, "Al salam Alaikum," which means may peace be upon you.