2019-03-16 by W.M.
Compassion, tears flow for Hamilton muslims, vigil planned for Saturday night
Hundreds paid their respects and gave messages of support at the Jamia Masjid Mosque in Heaphy Terrace following the Christchurch terror attack.
For Hamilton’s Muslim community the shock and horror of Friday’s massacre in Christchurch is giving way to a huge groundswell of empathy and solidarity from the wider population.
At the Jamia Masjid Mosque in Heaphy Terrace dozens of bouquets and messages inscribed in chalk had been left by well-wishers on Saturday.
A steady stream of people were visiting the mosque throughout the day, although they could not enter the grounds, which still had an armed police guard stationed at the gate.
Many who came spoke and embraced members of the Muslim community, who had also gathered there.
Many were reduced to tears by the experience.
Among them was Paul and Tina Cox and their daughter Chloe, who had relocated to Hamilton from Dunedin.
“It’s brought us together,” Paul Cox said. “We just wanted to come here to show our unity. Nobody should feel unsafe in this country.”
Islamuddin Orya, a regular worshipper at the mosque, was handing out bottles of water to those who had gathered in the hot sunshine.
“I can’t describe it. It’s amazing. It gives a lot of strength to us and it is creating a bridge with our faith and values and it is bringing more understanding.
“All are sharing the love and the condolences. All are sharing the understanding.”
Worshippers from more than 20 countries came to the mosque to pray and socialise.
A vigil for victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack organised by the Hamilton City Council will be held at nearby Claudelands Park, from 8pm to 9pm on Saturday.
Mayor Andrew King, kaumatua Tame Pokaia, Dr Asad Mohsin of the Waikato Muslim Association and others will speak at the event, which will also feature performances by a choir.
Heaphy Tce will be closed to traffic between Thames St and the mosque for the duration of the vigil. Those wanting to attend, are urged to walk, ride bicycles, carpool or use public transport. Those driving can park vehicles on the Claudelands Oval, with access from Heaphy Tce or Brooklyn Rd – however parking will be limited and people who leave their vehicles on neighbouring streets are urged to park sensibly and not block access to properties.
Those attending are also urged not to use naked flames. Torches, cellphones and other small lights are, however, encouraged.
The flags above the council chambers will fly at half-mast until Monday afternoon, to reflect the three-day mourning period customary in Muslim culture.
In Rotorua a similar vigil will be held at the marae at Tamatekapua from 7pm, and on the main beach at Mt Maunganui at the same time.