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  1. ITV Report

'We are broken-hearted - but we are not broken': New Zealand imam gives powerful message of unity at call to prayer

New Zealand is "broken hearted - but not broken", the imam at Al Noor mosque has said, during a powerful message of unity at prayers on Friday.

One week to the day since 50 people were killed at two mosques in the country, including Al Noor, imam Gamal Fouda thanked New Zealanders for their support.

This terrorist sought to tear our nation apart with an evil ideology. But instead, we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable.

We are broken-hearted but we are not broken.

– Imam Gamal Fouda

"We are alive. We are together. We are determined to not let anyone divide us," he added, as the crowd erupted with applause.

Among the crowd congregated in the park opposite Al Noor was Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"New Zealand mourns with you. We are one," she told them.

Thousands more were listening in on the radio or watching on television as the event was broadcast live. The prayer was followed by two minutes of silence.

People across New Zealand observed the Muslim call to prayer on Friday, while videos posted to social media showed others in supermarkets, shopping centres and parks taking part in the two-minute silence in honour of the victims.

Officials laid out a large area of light brown carpeting where hundreds of Muslim men sat in socks or bare feet readying for the prayer.

One man in the front row was in a Christchurch Hospital wheelchair.

He told ITV News of being inside the mosque when shots began ringing out.

"I saw this kid on the ground and his eyes were open - and in his other hand he had a phone... to his mum," he said.

He said he'd had to break the news to the boy's mother over the phone before he heard more gunfire and had to run for his life.

Later in the day, a mass funeral was held to bury 26 of the victims at a cemetery where more than a dozen have already been laid to rest.

Friday’s burials included the youngest victim, three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim.

Hundreds of mourners gathered to watch the caskets as they were carried past.

Mourners carry the casket of the youngest victim 3-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Christchurch, New Zealand. Credit: AP

Fahim Imam, 33, of Auckland, returned to the city for Friday’s service. He was born and grew up in Christchurch but moved away three years ago.

“It’s just amazing to see how the country and the community have come together — blows my mind, actually,” Mr Imam said before the event.

“As soon as I got off the plane, I saw a sign someone was holding that said ‘jenaza’, denoting Muslim funeral prayer. Others were offering free rides to and from the prayer service,” Mr Imam said.

“The moment I landed in Christchurch, I could feel the love here. I’ve never felt more proud to be a Muslim, or a Kiwi for that matter. It makes me really happy to be able to say that I’m a New Zealander,” he added.

He called it surreal to see the mosque where he used to pray surrounded by flowers.

The observance comes the day after the government announced a ban on “military-style” semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines like the weapons that were used in last Friday’s attacks.

At least 42 people died at the Al Noor mosque and at least seven others at the nearby Linwood mosque.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as she leaves Friday prayers Credit: Vincent Thian/AP

Another survivor, now recovering from his injuries at home, said the response from New Zealand showed that the gunman would "fail" in his mission to divide society.

Instead, he said, he believes good will come of evil.

"It's not going to waste. Their sacrifice - it's not going to go to waste," he said.

"I think the terrorist will fail with his mission and what he wanted."

An immediate sales ban went into effect on Thursday to prevent stockpiling, and new laws would be rushed through Parliament that would impose a complete ban on the weapons, Ms Ardern said.

“Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned,” Ms Ardern said.

The gun legislation is supported not only by Ms Ardern’s liberal Labour Party but also the conservative opposition National Party, so it is expected to pass into law unhindered.

Among those planning to attend Friday’s observance was Samier Dandan, the president of the Lebanese Muslim Association in Sydney and part of a 15-strong delegation of Muslim leaders that had flown to Christchurch.

“It was an ugly act of terrorism that occurred in a beautiful, peaceful city,” Mr Dandan said.

He said his pain could not compare with that of the families he’d been visiting who had lost loved ones. He was inspired by their resilience, he said.

“And I’ve got to give all my respect to the New Zealand prime minister, with her position and her actions, and it speaks loud,” he said.

Ismat Fatimah, 46, said it was sad to look at the Al Noor mosque, which was still surrounded by construction barricades, armed police officers and a huge mound of flowers and messages.

“We’re feeling stronger than before, and we are one,” she said.