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Highlanders pay respects to Christchurch terror victims, visit Dunedin mosque

The Highlanders paid their respects to the Christchurch terror victims this afternoon, visiting the Al Huda Mosque in Dunedin before departing for Auckland.

The Otago Super Rugby franchise gifted the Muslim community flowers and a special embroidered jersey.

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said it was important for his side to show support to the Muslim community after last Friday's terror attacks at Masjid Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch.

"For us, after the tragic events of last Friday, this was the first chance as a club and individuals we've had to show our respect and our condolences to the Muslim community," said Clark.

"Our boys won't be able to be at the vigil this evening because we are traveling, obviously, so this was a perfect time and opportunity for us.

"Somebody said to me it's a small Muslim community and they're all connected to someone in Christchurch, so for us to be able to do anything for them is important."

Dr Mohammed Rizwan, chairman of the Otago Muslim Association, said he was grateful for the visit by the Highlanders team.

"It was unreal for myself, personally," he said. "I have not gone that far up close to any rugby player and there were a few All Blacks [players] in there as well.

"It was emotional for all of us. It's not just their presence but the support we are getting from them and the purpose they are actually here for."

The gifted Highlanders jersey displayed the message: In loving memory of the lives lost at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic centre, 15 March 2019. You are us.

"Those words mean a lot to us," Dr Rizwan said. "They're pretty much telling us that we are not a segregated community, but we are all in one community.

"We've been affected, everybody has been affected, all of New Zealand has been affected. It was really great to see them here."

Last Saturday, the Highlanders suspended their Super Rugby match with the Crusaders as a result of the attacks.

Tomorrow night the Highlanders take on the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland.

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    The team visited the Al Huda Mosque in Dunedin, bearing gifts of flowers and a jersey. Source: 1 NEWS


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