One of the survivors of the Christchurch terror attack, Farid Ahmed, told the crowd at the remembrance service today he had forgiven the shooter who killed his wife.
Thousands gathered at Hagley Park in Christchurch for Ko tātou, tātou - We are one. It was attended by dignitaries from 59 countries and featured performances from Marlon Williams, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Holly Smith and Teeks.
The names of the 50 victims of the terror attacks on Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Mosque were read aloud at the event by members of the Muslim community Interfaith Society.
Farid Ahmed, whose wife was killed in the attacks, addressed the crowd.
"I don't want to have a heart that is boiling like a volcano. A volcano has anger, fury, rage; it doesn't have peace, it has hatred.
"It burns itself within and it burns the surroundings. I don't want to have a heart like this and I believe no one does."
He said he forgave and loved the attacker.
"I want a heart that will be full of love and care and full of mercy and will forgive lavishly. This heart doesn't want any more lives to be lost.
"This heart doesn't like that the pain I have gone through ... that any human being should go through that kind of pain. That is why I have chosen peace, I have chosen love and I have forgiven."
Biggest applause so far for Farid Ahmed who "has chosen peace, has chosen love and has forgiven" - a beautiful speech. "I don't agree what he has done - perhaps he's misunderstood something - but at the same time I cannot deny that he is my human brother" pic.twitter.com/VtDNfBEMLA— Ekant Veer (@VeerOffTrack) March 28, 2019
Mr Ahmed said he wanted to offer his prayers for those who had died.
"Do not say about those who are killed in the worship of Allah that they are dead. They are alive; their soul is alive. People who are killed in their worship are in paradise.
"Their body is going to be perished but their souls are not going to be perished."
He said he also wanted to pray for the people who had survived.
"I would also like to offer my prayers for the people of New Zealand for safety and security. And I would also like to offer my prayer for the people in this world for peace and happiness.
"If our heart is full of love then peace will start from here," he said, indicating his heart.
Farid Ahmed’s wife was killed ...yet he forgives. The body perishes he says but not the soul pic.twitter.com/vxQBcP3Hp2— Lisa Owen (@lisaowennz) March 28, 2019
"All the thanks and praise to the Lord of the universe, may peace and mercy be upon all. I'm beginning in the name of Allah, the kind and merciful.
"That is why I have chosen peace. I have chosen love and I have forgiven.
"New Zealand is a peaceful country and it is going to stay peaceful, inshallah."