New Zealand’s sense of innocence was lost after the Christchurch terror attack on two mosques, according to Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt
Speaking at a vigil on Sunday, where more than 1000 people gathered at Wachner Place to show their support for Christchurch, Sir Tim said this was a moment for the country to stand together as a nation.
“The tragic events of Friday, have left every New Zealander with a mix of emotions. Hurt, fear, shock and disbelief that this could occur in our peaceful nation.”
Imam Reza Abdul Jabbar said “the terrorists” would not succeed in instilling fear and division in the country.
“This is what terrorism looks and feels like. Never would I have believed this would have ever taken place in a country which we all love and treasure… in a country which encourages religious freedom and endorses every type of diversity.”
His 16-year-old daughter, Aisha Abdul-Jabbar also spoke at the vigil.
As the attack was happening, she was giving a talk at her high school assembly about cultural diversity, she said. “We could not believe this happened.”
Mckenzie Dowson organised the vigil on her Facebook page. A minute’s silence was observed during the ceremony.
Councillor Toni Biddle sang Amazing Grace and also invited the Muslim community to sing the national anthem, God Defend New Zealand, with all attendees.
Imam Abdul Jabbar said he was overwhelmed with the support which had been shown.
“We appreciate this as a community. We know that we can count on our fellow Southlanders. We thank them. We thank New Zealand and our nation.”
Invercargill resident Vivi Ali said she felt more comfortable after the vigil.
“We were quite scared, but with this support, we are back again. What we have seen today, is something really encouraging.”