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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Imam of attacked New Zealand mosque in Christchurch says ‘we still love this country’

A gunman stormed into two mosques and opened fire killing 49 people and leaving 20 others injured during Friday prayers in the country’s worst mass shooting every.

world Updated: Mar 16, 2019 16:55 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Residents pay their respects by placing flowers for the victims of the mosques attacks in Christchurch on March 16, 2019.
Residents pay their respects by placing flowers for the victims of the mosques attacks in Christchurch on March 16, 2019. (AFP photo)
         

An imam who was leading prayers at a Christchurch mosque when a gunman brandishing semi-automatic weapons mowed down his congregation said Saturday that the Muslim community’s love for New Zealand would not be shaken by the attacks.

“We still love this country,” said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, imam of Linwood Mosque, vowing that extremists would “never ever touch our confidence”.

Halim gave a harrowing account of the moment during Friday prayers when gunshots rang out in the mosque, replacing peaceful reflection with screaming, bloodshed and death.

“Everyone laid down on the floor, and some women started crying, some people died immediately,” he said.

Watch| New Zealand mosque attack suspect charged with murder, appears in court

But, he said, New Zealand Muslims still felt at home in the south Pacific nation.

“My children live here” he said, adding, “we are happy”.

He said the majority of New Zealanders “are very keen to support all of us, to give us full solidarity”, describing how strangers exchanged hugs with him on Saturday.

“They start to... give me big hug, and give me more solidarity. This is something very important.”

The attacks on two mosques by a right-wing extremist left 49 people dead.

Also read | New Zealand mosque attack suspect smirks in court after being charged with murder

First Published: Mar 16, 2019 08:57 IST

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