Christchurch, March 23 (IANS) Worshippers on Saturday returned to the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, one of the two mosques where a gunman massacred 50 people on March 15.
In a hugely symbolic moment for the mosque’s members and the Muslim community, small groups of people were allowed back into the building to pray and pay their respects to the 42 people that lost their lives, The New Zealand Herald reported.
Police handed the mosque back to the community and removed a security cordon just after midday.
The second mosque in Linwood Avenue remains closed.
Fresh white paint was still drying on the walls. The carpet had been ripped out and had not yet been replaced. A few rooms remained locked.
Bullet holes had been plastered over and erased. Broken windows had been replaced and painted over with an intricate design. Outside, new roses have been planted.
Two men kneeled and prayed on the right hand side of the mosque’s main room. Four women prayed on the left.
As the Al Noor mosque reopened, some 3,000 people walked through Christchurch on Saturday for a
‘march for love’ intended to honour victims, the BBC said.
Many walked in silence and some carried placards calling for peace and opposing racism.
Aden Diriye, who lost his three-year-old son in the attack, returned to the Al-Noor mosque on Saturday.
“I am very happy,” he said after praying. ” I was back as soon as we rebuilt, to pray.”
Australian Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old self-proclaimed white supremacist, has been charged with one murder in connection with the attacks and he is expected to face further charges.