'They wanted to break us but we will unite'

5:50 pm on 22 March 2019

An Auckland man who lost his close friend in the Christchurch terror attacks says he's saddened by the incident but feels it has made the community stronger.

Memory board for victims of Christchurch mosque massacre.

Memory board for victims of Christchurch mosque massacre. Photo: RNZ / Sara Vui-Talitu

Irfan Qadiri travelled from Auckland to Hagley Park, where thousands gathered today to show their support for Muslims and where Muslims congregated for the Khutbat al-Jumu`ah and prayers.

He said the incident, which claimed 50 lives a week ago, would not tear the community apart.

"They have made us more stronger. I feel like after this incident they have made us more stronger. They wanted to break us but we will unite. We'll show you and unite and become more strong after what you have done."

His close friend, Muhammad Zeshan Raza, along with Mr Raza's parents, Ghulam Hussain and Karam Bibi, died in Friday's mosque attacks.

Mr Qadiri said he was not expecting his friend to be in Christchurch and choked up as he recalled how nice he was.

"He was in Auckland for a lot of years and very close friend of mine. I heard he was here for a few months, then he called his parents back from Pakistan just for a visit. All three were in this mosque and all three are dead," he said.

"I'm so saddened about him because he was charming ... very nice person. Just few months back he called me up and told me 'I'm taking my parents to Umrah, and that was my wish, that was my whole life's wish'."

He is survived by one sister in Pakistan.

He said the forgiveness that families of victims shared was one of the teachings in Islam.

"That's what my prophet has taught me, my prophet has always taught me to forgive people, to love people and that's how Islam is spread."

He said he would like to see New Zealand's outpour of support and love for Muslims replicated across the world.

"We are so saddened by this incident and it's not just Muslims, you can see a lot of Kiwis standing over here. It's not about Muslims, it's about New Zealanders' lives. They have come here to show their support for this event," he said.

"When we were looking after our mosque, we were really overwhelmed [by the support]. This is what we'd like to see all over the world you know, there's Islamophobia going on right now."

While extremists do exist all over the world, he said Islam stood against those ideologies, adding that it was an important message to tell people at this time.

"Our message 'Islam means peace, Muslim means peace'.

"They [radical muslims] are not us. This is what we have to show the world, they are not us, we are not them."

  • Recap: Christchurch mosque terror attacks day 8
  • Thousands attend vigils to remember mosque shooting victims
  • Facebook promises change after Christchurch shooting livestreamed
  • Haji-Daoud Nabi: First victim of Christchurch massacre finally at peace