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New Zealand marks one week since mosque attack with prayers, headscarves

Published: Updated:

New Zealanders on Friday marked one week since a mass shooting killed 50 Muslim worshipers in the South Island city of Christchurch, holding nationwide prayers and wearing headscarves to show their support for the devastated community.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will lead thousands of mourners expected to gather at Hagley Park in front of the Al Noor mosque, where most of the victims died.

The Muslim call to prayer at 1.30 p.m. (0030 GMT) will be broadcasted nationally, followed by two minutes of silence.

Ardern, who has labeled the attack as terrorism, announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles under tough new gun laws on Thursday.

The prime minister is expected to be accompanied in the Christchurch prayers with community leaders and other foreign dignitaries.

Most victims of New Zealand’s worst mass shooting were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

Muslims account for just over one percent of New Zealand’s population, most of whom were born overseas.

The #headscarfforharmony movement, launched by an Auckland doctor, encouraged people to wear headscarves on Friday to show their support for the Muslim community.

Robyn Molony, 65, was with a group of friends wearing headscarves at Hagley Park, where they walked daily.

“We are wearing headscarves showing our support, love, and solidarity, and hope that by everybody doing this it will demonstrate to Muslim women ... that they are one with us," she said.

Images of a grieving Ardern wearing a black headscarf as she visited families of the victims a day after the attacks were broadcast around the world.

Some women in the capital Wellington were also seen wearing headscarves on their morning commute.