Asia-Pacific

Families express significance of return to Al Noor mosque after NZ terror attack

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Muslim families express why they are determined to return to Al Noor mosque one week after 50 members of the community were killed in a terror attack.

Matt Connellan reports from Christchurch, New Zealand

Members of Christchurch’s Islamic community stood at the gate to Al Noor mosque - word had spread quickly that it was about to be re-opened.

They were eager to pray, and eager to pay their respects to the 42 of their own who were gunned down in cold blood there just eight days ago.

Mosque officials moved quickly to ensure only 15 people entered at a time.

Husbands could accompany wives, and whole families could proceed together.

Those who were leaving Christchurch were also given priority.

Members of the media were invited to join the groups, but on the strict proviso that no pictures or video were taken inside the mosque.

SBS News was in a group with another member of the media and a number of local worshippers.

We took off our shoes and headed for the doorway.

It looked familiar, of course it did.

The interior smelled of fresh paint and the floors had been covered. Do not open doors that are closed, we were told.

The men headed to the front right hand corner of the small room, the women to the left.

They prayed.

Muslim men pray in Hagley Park across the road from the Al Noor mosque following last weeks mass shooting in Christchurch.
Muslim men pray in Hagley Park across the road from the Al Noor mosque following last weeks mass shooting in Christchurch.
AAP

One man later told me that prayers at the mosque carry more weight than prayers done at home - which is why members of the community were so eager to be able to return, even after the horror they witnessed eight days ago.

The five minutes passed quickly and we were ushered out quietly.

The interior work that had been done was to get the mosque back into working order.

Members of the community told me that how it looked wasn’t important.

The most important thing for them was having the Al Noor mosque back at all.

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