Cape Town – South Africans have strongly condemned the New Zealand mosque massacre, showing their solidarity through acts of love in vigils, flowers, human chains and heartfelt messages shared across social media.
The incident saw a self-proclaimed white supremacist walk into two mosques on Friday and shoot everyone in sight, with a camera attached to his head live streaming his actions.
Fifty people were killed and scores of others injured. A 28-year-old Australian citizen was arrested and will stand trial in New Zealand.
On the steps of St George’s Cathedral in the city centre yesterday, the public was invited to gather after their evening service to light candles in honour of the lives lost in the attack.
In another random act of kindness, an anonymous family left a bunch of flowers and a message outside the Greenside mosque in Johannesburg.
The message read: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Muslim world internationally. We are all human beings created in the image of the same God.”
In Bonteheuwel, masses across different religious backgrounds gathered for three consecutive nights, praying and singing with placards in hand in solidarity with New Zealand after maghrib prayers.
Bonteheuwel Majied chairperson Farouk Salie said: “We thank everybody who came out to support and show empathy towards our brothers and sisters in New Zealand.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa also sent a message of condolence.
“The government and the people of South Africa convey their deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones and wish all the injured a speedy recovery.”
No South Africans deaths have been reported.
A social media user posted that the sight at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch was still a haunting one, with rows of empty cars still parked behind the mosque with no one to drive them.
The South African Muslim Network expressed horror at the “mindless bloody terrorist attacks on the Muslim community of Christchurch”.
Chairperson Faisal Suliman said: “We call on all Muslims around the world to react with the dignity and self-restraint that is inherent in the teachings of the Holy Qur’an.
“This tragedy reminds us of our vulnerability as human beings. In times of division, it is critical that we stand together as a single humanity.
“We oppose every and any act that fragments us from racism, bigotry and violence against any member of society, the central tenet of our religion being peace.
“We appeal to the media and politicians to consider the impact of their words and their ability to generate Islamophobia.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited the Kilbernie mosque in Wellington yesterday to lay flowers in tribute to the victims and to meet Islamic community leaders.
She said: “Their message was one of gratitude for the outpouring of love they have experienced. We cannot be deterred from the work that we need to do regarding our gun laws, they need to change.”
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has come under fire for his anti-immigrant statements and its connection to inspiring extremist behaviour.
Twitter user Michael Donnelly said: “He’s one of yours. He’s a right wing white nationalist, seen here flashing the WP/White Power hand gesture in court today. Donald Trump, Tommy Robinson, the Q community, and other white nationalists have blood on their hands today.”