Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday, September 24 visited the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch to unveil a plaque created in honour of the 51 victims died in the mosque attacks on March 15, 2019.
PM Ardern was greeted and welcomed at the mosque by Muslims community members along with Dr Megan Woods, Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Imam Gama Fouda and newly elected FIANZ president Ibrar Sheikh.
Speaking at the event, PM Ardern expressed her happiness being there finally after this event was postponed twice earlier this year.
Brothers Mohammed Janveer Jahangir (left), Mohammed Khursheed Jahangir (centre-behind), and injured victim from Linwood mosque Ahmed Iqbal Jahangir with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Al Noor mosque during plaque unveiling ceremony (Picture Supplied)
Ms Ardern was earlier scheduled to unveil the plaque in March this year on the first anniversary of the attacks but was postponed due to the first wave of Covid lockdown across the country, and it was postponed again in August this year due to the lockdowns of the second wave of Covid.
She later unveiled the plaque on the ground of Al Noor mosque that read ‘In memory of the 51 Shuhadah (martyrs) who lost their lives on March 15 2019’ with a further inscription of a verse from the Quran that translates ‘We surely belong to Allah and to Him we shall return’.
Imam Fouda added that unveiling of the plaque was one of his last wishes and is meant to strengthen the community remembering those dark weeks after the attack.
Founder of Al Noor mosque in Christchurch in 1985 Dr Hanif Quazi (Photo Supplied)
Imam Fouda addressing the community members, guests before the unveiling of the plaque, said the plaque has a greater significance for the community- it should be considered as a model for peace.
PM Ardern called the day of attack one of the darkest days in New Zealand’s history that will have a permanent scar in the hearts of New Zealanders and the Muslim community at home and around the globe.
“Community members narrated some of the harrowing experiences in the aftermath of the incident and thanked the police, the justice system and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s empathetic response for the victims and the Muslim community,” Mohammed Khursheed Jahangir, brother of injured victim Ahmed Jahangir told The Indian Weekender.
The plaque unveiled at Al Noor mosque premises in memory of 51 victims died in Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15, 2019 (Photo Courtesy: Radhika Naidu)
Founder of the Al Noor mosque that opened its doors in 1985, Dr Hanif told the story of the beginning of the mosque and the minuscule number of Muslims in Canterbury at that point of time and how the mosque has become one of the most significant figures of hope and peace in the world.
Earlier last month, after a four-day sentencing hearing in the High Court in Christchurch, Australian Brenton Tarrant, 29, a ‘labelled terrorist entity’ and was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole.
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