Thousands attend New Zealand vigil to honor mosque attack victims

Image: Christchurch Mourns After Worst Mass Shooting In New Zealand's Histo
A man holds a New Zealand flag as he and others take part in a vigil to remember the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks, on March 24, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Copyright Carl Court
By Associated Press with NBC News World News
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Officials estimate up to 40,000 people attended the event.


CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Thousands of people gathered in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Sunday to listen to prayers, songs and speeches at a vigil to remember the 50 people killed in a terrorist attack on two mosques.

One of those watching from a wheelchair was 21-year-old Mustafa Boztas, who was shot in the leg and liver during the March 15 attack at the Al Noor mosque.

"It's beautiful to see what the community has put together to show they care about us, and to show that we are all one," Boztas said.

He said he was recovering well and hoped to be walking normally soon.

Officials estimate up to 40,000 people attended the event on a sunny evening at Hagley Park. It was held on a stage that had been set up for a concert by Canadian singer Bryan Adams that was cancelled after the attacks.

The names of each of the 50 people killed were read out.


Okirano Tilaia, the head boy at Cashmere High School, which lost two students in the attack, cited Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech, saying he conquered people with love, peace and solidarity.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can," Tilaia said. "And hatred cannot drive out hatred. Only love can."

New Zealand has been holding a series of memorials since the attacks. On Friday, people across the nation observed the Muslim call to prayer one week after the attacks. Next Friday, a national remembrance is scheduled.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder in the attacks and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on April 5.

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