Push for 15 March to become national day of prayer and reflection
Conan Young , Reporter
Hundreds of people from the Christchurch suburb of Hillmorton packed into the local high school hall last night for a memorial service for four of their own who died in the mosque shootings.
The family of victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks, including Farid Ahmed, who is in a wheelchair. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young
They heard from Muslim and non-Muslim leaders, listened to some inspiring performances and shared a meal cooked by the local Muslim community.
Farid Ahmed who lost his wife, Husna Ahmed, at the Al Noor mosque and who spoke at the National Memorial Service of forgiving the shooter, asked a series of questions of those gathered including why the attacks happened in New Zealand.
"I believe that it happened as a test for us, as a test for Muslims, as a test for the New Zealand government, as a test for New Zealanders."
Rashid Omar who lost his son, Tariq Rashid Omar, said his family missed him terribly.
His loss was felt deeply, including by the many young footballers he used to coach.
"He was very caring, very gentle, very firm when he was doing his coaching to young children. It's still very tough. It's only that we are trying to, as a family to live without him physically and without him around us. This is a very difficult learning curve for us."
Abdukadir Elmi, who was 65, left behind a wife and nine children.
Last night his son, Ali Abdukadir, said he was grateful for the big turnout and for the support his family had received.
He paid tribute to his father who he said did a lot of fund-raising for those still struggling back home in Somalia and always put others ahead of himself.
"It's pretty quiet without him. You know, we miss him a lot. And he was a good man. You know, he raised nine kids, and we all love him and we all miss him. So yeah, he was absolutely you know, like a really good father and the best father you could ever have."
Adam Miyaakhel lost his brother, Matiullah Safi.
As the eldest son he has now taken on responsibility for his brother's five teenage sons and his teenage daughter.
He felt this generation owed it to the next to make sure the same thing did not happen again.
Throughout the service four candles burned in front of photographs of each of the four people being remembered.
Farid Ahmed compared each of them to a candle in the way they were showing the way to move forward from such a tragic event.
"For their sacrifice, we are together today, for their sacrifice we are stronger today. For their sacrifice, we are now adamant that we will work hard for a better New Zealand, for a peaceful New Zealand."
New Zealand Federation of Islamic Associations head Mustafa Farouk told the audience, which included a number of government ministers, he would be pushing for 15 March to become a national day of prayer and reflection and for two memorials to be built.
One for the victims and another to commemorate the public response to the tragedy and the way it had brought New Zealanders together.