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Linwood mosque Imam's message of unity on anniversary of terrorist attack - 'The blood that runs in me, runs in you'

In the days that followed the Christchurch terrorist attack a year ago today, Linwood Imam Alabi Lateef Zirullah's messages of love went viral and survivor Abdul Aziz was quickly hailed a hero for using an Eftpos machine to prevent even more deaths.

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Twelve months after the attack Alabi Lateef Zirullah is urging Kiwis of all backgrounds recognise our similarities. Source: 1 NEWS

Fifty-one people were gunned down at Al Noor mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15, 2019.

Six kilometres from the Al Noor mosque, where the first victims were killed, seven more people died inside Linwood Mosque after being shot and another at hospital hours later - a huge toll on the place of worship where only a small group pray each day.

Mr Zirullah told 1 NEWS it would be hard enough to lose one person, let alone seven or eight.

But the tragedy could have been much worse if it wasn't for the heroic efforts if Mr Aziz.

"I run out quickly this way," he recounted to 1 NEWS. "And the Eftpos machine was on this white table and I grabbed it and run outside and that's all I could do cause we had nothing else.

Mr Aziz chased the alleged shooter down, throwing the machine at him.

"That was my natural reaction," he said. "That's the love of the people to call me a hero but I believe that was my job first of all as a human being. I done my job.

"We are very proud of the brother and sister, you know, 'cause we showed to the world you can win people's hearts by love, not by hate and that's what we did actually - spread more love."

Now a year on, Mr Zirullah said the main intention was bringing humanity together.

"Everybody, bring everybody together. You're Kiwi I'm African, he's Somalian, he's Fijian, he's Māori. We got no difference in us expect our names that's all," he said.

"The blood that runs in me, runs in you. You use your mouth to eat, nose to breathe, eyes to see - same thing."

They're now investing their time and energy into upgrading the mosque.

"Hopefully having a more spacious place, which is quite wide, we can see every part from whoever's coming from the gate easily," Mr Zirullah said, saying it would mean more safety for worshipers.

On a weekday, between 15 and 25 people pray at the mosque in Linwood, but on Fridays that number can be up to 200.

The new mosque would not only cater to the numbers, but in the words of the Imam, he said it's compensation from Allah, for after every difficulty, ease eventually follows.

"Being the Imam is not something I'm proud of, I'm just fortunate to be in the mosque that day, to witness such a thing and survive and be one of those who send my brother and sisters to their resting place and just proud to be a Muslim in New Zealand."