A Muslim leader whose wife was killed in the Christchurch massacre says the gunman's guilty plea will give his community peace at last.
Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 29, admitted 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one charge under the Terrorism Act at the High Court in Christchurch today.
He pleaded guilty in a virtually empty court room because of the nationwide lockdown.
Journalists and a single representative from the Al Noor and Linwood mosques were among those present
Farid Ahmed, who famously forgave the shooter and became a messenger of peace to the world, said the development was step in the right direction for the gunman becoming a better person.
Ahmed said he hoped today's surprise plea served to show the power of praying for those who had perpetrated evil against you.
He said he had prayed for mass killer to find the heart to take responsibility for murdering 51 Muslims worshippers at the two mosques in Christchurch in March 15 last year.
"He has taken the right step in the right direction. It is good for him, good for me, good for everyone else, good the country," he told Checkpoint.
"People do horrible things. In each person there are two sides, one side is the evil part and the other is the good, righteous side... Some people are very strong in their mind and they suppress that evil part.
"He has done wrong things. But most particularly when I look at the issue of his guilty plea in that part definitely, he has thought well.
"He has realised that he has done the wrong thing and he is admitting that. That part is a good part. I must respect that and I want to encourage him to continue taking the right path. Continue working on the path of love and peace that is good for him and is good for everyone else."
Ahmed, whose wife Husna was shot dead by Tarrant, wants to meet him to let him know he is loved and forgiven.
"I want to talk to him and express my inner love for him and I am also waiting for the opportunity to meet his family in Australia," he said.
The widower said he hoped Tarrant's guilty plea was a genuine sign of remorse for his actions, adding it had been a hard year for his victims, but that he was grateful they would not be re-traumatised through a trial.
"I always want to believe in the good parts of humanity and I always pray and have been praying for him that God gives him proper mind so he does understand what he has done wrong and he can use from within himself the proper process of correction," he said.
Ahmed said it showed that people should pray for one another to become peaceful and loving and that the court plea gave him more hope that there was light and "goodness in everybody's heart".
"It does not take long to have a change of the heart," he said.
He was at peace with his wife's death because her peaceful and loving state before she died assured her a place in paradise, he said.
Ahmed called his wife a "wonderful rose" who had blessed his family with her love.
"She is with me, she is part of me. I married for forever. I believe that we are separated temporarily but I believe in the next life, and in that next life we will be together again."
He said he still loved his wife's killer as a "human brother" and that he would continue to pray for him and that the justice that he faced within the courts was not within his jurisdiction.
Husna Ah-med was killed by the gunman as she ran back into Al Noor Masjid to find her husband, who is in a wheelchair.