Gamal Fouda, imam of the al-Noor Mosque where a white supremacist gunman began the rampage that killed 50 worshippers, addressed thousands of New Zealanders – Muslims and non-Muslims – gathered for Friday prayers a week after the attack.
Here are extracts from his sermon:
“Last Friday I stood in this mosque and saw the hatred and the rage in the eyes of the terrorist who killed and martyred 50 innocent people, wounded 42, and broke the hearts of millions around the world.
“Today from the same place, I look out and I see the love and compassion in the eyes of thousands of fellow New Zealanders and human beings from across the globe, that fill the hearts of millions more who are not with us physically, but in spirit.
“This terrorist sought to tear our nation apart with an evil ideology that has torn the world apart.
“But instead we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable and that the world can see in us an example of love and unity.
“We are brokenhearted, but we are not broken. We are alive. We are together. We are determined to not let anyone divide us...”
“This evil ideology of white supremacy did not strike us first, yet it struck us hardest. The number of people killed is not ordinary, but the solidarity in New Zealand is extraordinary.
“To the families of the victims, your loved ones did not die in vain. Their blood has watered the seeds of hope. Through them, the world will see the beauty of Islam and the beauty of our unity...”
“They were the best of us, taken from us on the best of days, in the best of places and performing the best of actions.
“And they are not just martyrs of Islam, but they are martyrs for this nation. Our loss of you is a gain to New Zealand’s unity and strength. Your departure is an awaking not just for our nation, but for all humanity...”
“Our assembly here, with all the shades of our diversity is a testament of our joint humanity. We are here in our hundreds and thousands unified for one purpose – that hate will be undone, and love will redeem us...”
“To the people of New Zealand – thank you. Thank you for your tears. Thank you for your haka. Thank you for your flowers. Thank you for your love and compassion.”