Assassination in New Zealand: "That's not who we are" - politics

The day after the assassination of two mosques, the people of Christchurch commemorate the victims. And they make clear what they and their country want to stand for.


By Felix Haselsteiner, Christchurch

For a brief moment you might think that everything was just a bad dream, so quiet is the Hagley Park in the early morning hours of Saturday there, so normal sounds the birdsong, so relaxed running a jogger along one of the ways, who cross the big park in the center of Christchurch. Only at the second look, the red-white police tape comes into view, then the heavily armed guards who secure the place on Friday afternoon at 13.40 local time one or more assassins opened fire on praying Muslims.

49 people were killed in the attack on Friday and dozens of people are still being treated in hospitals. The Masjid Al-Noor Mosque, located on the west side of Hagley Park, was the first scene of the gruesome Christchurch assassination, the second was a smaller mosque just outside the city. On Saturday, however, it quickly becomes apparent that Christchurch's largest Muslim place of worship is the place to which the inhabitants of the city, whom they wish to commemorate, are attracted.

During the morning, more and more people are coming to the west side of the park. At first they do not know exactly where to drop the flowers and condolence cards they brought with them, but then a traffic island on a closed intersection, about three hundred meters from the mosque, becomes the gathering place of the mourners.

Terrorism suspect wanted to continue attacks

Suspect wanted to continue attacks

New weapons have been found in the alleged assassin's car, says New Zealand's prime minister Ardern. The 28-year-old Australian has since been formally charged with the murder.


Even as more and more people arrive around that traffic island, under the unpleasantly rhythmic, yellow-flashing light of the traffic light, which normally governs the approach to the residential district where the mosque is located, silence remains above the action. Some mourners stand motionless next to orange warning cones, some sit in the middle of the crossroads and put their heads in their arms. Others have brought their children, who are in the arms of their crying mothers and fathers. The scene the day after the assassination testifies to the grief and empathy of the city dwellers.

Leaning against a yellow street railing, Maree Dennehy, a retiree who lives at the back of the mosque, talks about leaving the house on Friday at 1:40 pm and wondering who was holding fireworks around that time: "I was thinking Not too much in the first moment and got into my car, then I turned the corner and drove past the mosque, where some people were standing on the sidewalk.Suddenly when I drove by, one of this group suddenly overturned, then the next – only That's when I realized that these people were being shot. " Dennehy fled shivering and paralyzed from the crime scene to her sister's home, only when she heard the news did she realize the extent of the assassination she had just seen.

The following day, the elderly woman radiates a remarkable calm. As a member of two victims tries to cross the barriers under loud protest to get to the scene, she goes to the man and talks to him reassuringly. She knows the people who pray near her. "Even though I'm not a Muslim, I used to visit the mosque more often," she says. "There have always been events I've gone to. It has always been a friendly neighborhood."

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