Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was given a standing ovation at a remembrance service held for Christchurch Attack victims. She was applauded for her compassion and respect
A nation-wide memorial service for the Christchurch Attack victims was held in New Zealand witnessed a crowd of over 20,000 people. As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took the stage at Hagley Park, she was honoured with a standing ovation.
The compassion and respect shown by the leader to the Christchurch victims and their families have brought Ardern national and international appreciation.
After 5o people lost their lives to mass shootings, carried out by a gunman at two Christchurch mosques on March 15, New Zealand’s PM was quick to act on the situation.
Besides extending her full support to the Muslim community, Ardern asserted the need to highlight the names of the victims and not the gunman. She said the shooter “sought many things from his act of terror but one was notoriety, that is why you will never hear me mention his name.”
Less than a week after the mass shootings, New Zealand declared new gun laws. The decision banned military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles across the nation.
The move was applauded internationally for being the “fastest response ever by a government after a tragedy”.
Almost two weeks after the incursion, at the memorial service, PM Ardern said: “The world has been stuck in a vicious cycle of extremism breeding extremism and it must end.”
“We cannot confront these issues alone, none of us can. The answer lies in our humanity. But for now, we will remember the tears of our nation and the new resolve we have formed,” she added.
PM Ardern asserted that New Zealand needed to be a “place that is diverse, that is welcoming, that is kind and compassionate. Those values represent the very best of us. But even the ugliest of viruses can exist in places they are not welcome. Racism exists, but it is not welcome here.”
Amid applause, the Prime Minister said, “We each hold the power, in our words, in our actions, in our daily acts of kindness. Let that be the legacy of the 15th of March.”
Shaggaf Khan, President of the Muslim Council of Canterbury, also addressed the service. He said, “You did not leave us alone in our sadness. New Zealand responded in a way that none of us will ever forget – that let the world know who we really are.”
British singer Yusuf Islam, widely known as Cat Stevens, performed his popular single, Peace Train at the event. Ahead of his performance, the singer said, “It’s only when good people stay sitting that evil rises. We’ve seen the opposite in this country.”
Survivor of the Christchurch shooting, Farid Ahmed received a massive applause for his moving speech that called for peace. He said, “I don’t want a heart that is boiling like a volcano. I want a heart that will be full of love and care, and will have mercy.” He told the crowd, he had forgiven the gunman.