Here’s How New Zealand Has Banded Together To Show Love & Support For The Muslim Community


Atiqah Mokhtar •  Mar 18, 2019

In the wake of the terrible events that happened in Christchurch in which two mosques were subject to attacks by a gunman which killed 50, many have been left reeling. It's hard to make sense of the violence that has happened, and the incident has left many feeling shocked, angry and fearful.

Credit: @gaynorstanley on Instagram

But the shootings have also seen an outpour of response from the local community, with people of various races and religions banding together to not only mourn those lost but also to provide support for those affected and to stand together in defiance of this senseless tragedy.

Credit: @bilal_slaimankhel_ on Instagram

Numerous vigils have been held throughout New Zealand following the incidents to honour the victims. In New Zealand, locals gathered in front of Al Noor Mosque (one of the mosques affected by the shooting) to pay their respects, while thousands also came together in Auckland at Aotea Square, with some holding banners calling for love in the face of hatred. Many have also been laying flowers at mosques all throughout the country, including Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern, who laid wreaths at Kilbirnie Mosque in Wellington, consoled family members of the victims, and met with the Muslim community.

Source: Guardian News

Credit: @theproject_nz on Instagram

In Christchurch, locals have rallied tremendously to provide support to the victims and their families. Within a day of the incident, local resident Sarah Ioannou, along with her husband's family (who owns Theo Fisheries, a store selling fresh seafood and fish and chips) had used their store chillers to arrange for a halal food drive, in which numerous community members and local businesses came from near and far to donate to, despite the short notice. The food was delivered to different locations where families of the victims were based, as well as the Christchurch hospital. Stuff NZ also reported that many non-Muslim locals were heading to halal butchers to purchase halal meat and get guidance on the sorts of foods that they can cook or donate towards victims.

Credit: @bilal_slaimankhel_ on Instagram

In Auckland, many of the local community have gathered at Al-Masjid al-Jamie (also known as Ponsonby Mosque), New Zealand's oldest mosque, placing flowers, condolence notes and signs of support along the mosque's perimeter. Following the closing of the mosque after the shooting (for security reasons), a Catholic church located opposite the mosque, the Sacred Heart Church, opened its doors and held a memorial service in honour of the victims in which both Christians and Muslims gathered and where leaders of both houses of worship shared the pulpit. After the service, everyone was invited to move the gathering to the mosque, and in a beautiful display of diversity and unitedness, the group made of people from different races and religions entered the mosque together, the first time it was opened since the incident.

Credit: @bilal_slaimankhel_ on Instagram

Muslim members of the community there have reported being amazed and so appreciative of the outpouring of love and support from everyone.

New Zealanders have also paid tribute to the victims in one of the most unique and culturally significant ways native to the country  - the haka. Several news outlets shared a video of a man performing the haka on his own in front of Al Noor Mosque (the first mosque that was attacked), in a solemn and emotional tribute to those who had fallen. Since then, more haka tributes have been done by Kiwis, including one done at a vigil in Wellington, one done in front of Arundel Mosque in Gold Coast, and another one done by a local biker group, also in front of Al Noor Mosque.

Source: VOA News

Financial support has also poured in - over NZD6m has been raised to date, with tens and thousands of people donating through funding platforms Givelittle  and Everyday Hero (both administrated by government agency NZ Council of Victim Support Groups)  as well as Launchgood (administrated by New Zealand Islamic Information Centre (NZIIC)).

Credit: @rubyalicerose on Instagram

New Zealand artist Ruby Jones who is based in Wellington drew an illustration that has quickly gone viral amidst the aftermath of the incident. The drawing, which shows two women hugging (one of whom is wearing a hijab) as well as the powerful caption, was shared by many of the local community.

Credit: Auckland City District Police on Facebook

Other small acts of kindness have also been abundant, with locals contributing in whatever way they can, such as this man who was photographed handing out water to those attending the vigil in Auckland, as well as those offering to accompany Muslims who feel unsafe walking the streets following the incident.

Global support has also been staunch - gatherings, prayers and vigils have been done in London, Istanbul, and several cities in Australia. In addition, Sydney lit up the Opera House with the New Zealand symbol of a silver fern, in a display of unity and compassion. Many people have also left flowers at mosques all around the world to express solidarity.

Credit: @thatguyjamalx on Instagram'

As Muslims throughout the world grieve over this senseless act of violence, New Zealand has displayed such a heartwarming and staunch stand of unity against the ideologies that would threaten peace amongst its community. It is is a profound testament to the genuine warmth and care of the Kiwi people, and a reiteration of what we at HHWT came to learn about them during our recent trip to New Zealand. As the effects of this incident (as well as the amazing response towards it) ripples throughout the world, we must aim to practice the same steadfastness, strength and kindness that has been shown by the New Zealand community. Instead of letting such terrible acts divide us, may we always respond with patience, understanding and more love ❤️