Christchurch Muslims will mark the loss of 51 friends and family in the city’s two mosques one year ago at a combined Friday prayer meeting and a national remembrance service.
Up to 4000 people are expected to attend Friday prayers held by the Al Noor and Linwood Mosque communities on March 13 at Horncastle Arena.
Linwood Mosque general secretary and Islamic centre trustee Faisal Sayed said the venue would make security easier and accommodate an influx of local, national and international visitors.
The prayer service was an opportunity for Muslims to celebrate the support they had received from New Zealanders and would include a message of peace and unity, Sayed said.
Members of both mosques were also expected to attend a national remembrance service, organised by the Christchurch City Council, from 3pm in North Hagley Park.
Muslim Association of Canterbury general secretary Muhommed Feroze Ditta said there had been different “schools of thought” within the culturally diverse community about a remembrance service.
“Some people have suggested it should not happen,” Ditta said.
Muslim Association of Canterbury spokesman Tony Green said generally, Muslims did not mark anniversaries of death because they considered their loved one to have gone on to another life beyond death.
“So, you’re not mourning, you are saying they have gone on and we will, in our turn, follow them.”
Green said Islam did not forbid followers from mourning “because we know we need to honour those people who have been killed”, but it emphasised the need to create a positive legacy from the loss.
Following consultations with attack victims over several meetings and with support from Al Noor Imam Gamal Fouda, the majority of the community was supportive of the event.
On Monday Fouda called for a national remembrance service to be held every year on March 15.
He told the NZ Herald the attacks were “crimes against humanity” and warranted an exception to normal Islamic practice.
“Anywhere in New Zealand, if Muslims want to apply the normal rule, they can apply it outside of Christchurch – but in here, it’s an exception – because we are here to say that the voice of love should be louder than the voice of evil.”
The opinion of the victims about the service was also a very important consideration for the community, Feroze said.
“If they did not mind and they had no objection, then who are we to object to it?”
He expected victims and most Muslims would attend the remembrance service but there was no obligation.
While “one or two” may not want to attend, most wanted to go “to show solidarity and acknowledge that this happened”.
The service was important for the wider community, with ripples from the massacre even felt internationally, Feroze said.
While the grief of the victims was far greater than for anyone else, “everybody felt something that day”.
Sayed said members of the Linwood Mosque were “mostly positive” about the service and saw it as an opportunity to come together with the whole community in a stand against “evil and hatred”.
Source: The Press
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