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

Published March 16, 2019, 3:43 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Agence France-Presse 

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 massacre.

This picture released by Radio New Zealand shows police officers cordoning a street near the mosque after a firing incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. (AFP PHOTO /RADIO NEW ZEALAND / MANILA BULLETIN)
This picture released by Radio New Zealand shows police officers cordoning a street near the mosque after a firing incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019.
(AFP PHOTO /RADIO NEW ZEALAND / MANILA BULLETIN)

“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.

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.

 
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