A total of 50 people were killed last Friday in one of New Zealand’s most heinous mass killings, in which a young Australian white supremacist opened fire upon Muslims at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
Deeply affected by one of the darkest days in their home country, two Kiwi expats offered their support and sympathy to the local Muslim community by making visits at two mosques over the weekend.
New Zealander Kim Forrester dropped by Al-Huda Mosque in Bukit Timah on Saturday afternoon in solidarity with the Muslim community.
“She said that on behalf of the NZ residents, she apologized to what had happened and prayed for all Muslims for their safety and prosperity in the Islamic faith,” wrote Al-Huda Mosque chairman Azman Kassim, noting that she didn’t actually need apologize for the incident.
Speaking to The New Paper, the 47-year-old Singapore-based educator mentioned that she visited the mosque out of guilt and shame.
“People in New Zealand are kind and gentle and open, but some have experienced unwelcoming behavior there,” Forrester told TNP.
“It is my hope that we can open our eyes and stop any and every form of casual or even targeted racism.”
On behalf of the Al-Huda Mosque, Azman thanked her for the heartening visit on Saturday and invited Forrester to break fast with the Muslim community during the upcoming Ramadan month.
Over at Orchard Road’s Al-Falah Mosque, 48-year-old Graeme Merrall dropped by on Saturday in a show of solidarity with the Muslim victims who were killed in his home country.
He handed a bouquet of flowers to the mosque with a comforting message: “Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manowanui” — “be strong, be brave, be steadfast” in Maori.
“I’ve never been to a mosque before but it was something I felt was important to do,” wrote Merrall on Facebook.
“The person who took (50) members of your family has failed. His actions will bring us closer, not further apart.”
In New Zealand, the sentiments are similar — thousands of its citizens have been standing in solidarity with the victims and their families by laying flowers and messages of hope outside mosques across the country. Maoris have been performing traditional Haka dances at memorials. Prime Minister Jacinda Arden made big strides in offering her sympathies, personally visiting the relatives of the victims as well the local Muslim community. The government has assured that it will cover the burial costs of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks and that financial support will be provided to their families.
“The people of New Zealand of all races and backgrounds have stood together and become closer over this incident. We hope that their society too will heal over time,” wrote Singapore’s president Halimah Yacob in a strongly-worded post against hate and all forms of xenophobia.
This article, New Zealand expats visit mosques in Singapore to stand in solidarity with victims of Christchurch killings, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!