At a subdued national memorial service Friday for victims of New Zealand’s mosque terror attacks, speakers emphasized confidence in the country and its handling of the tragedy’s aftermath.
Fifty people died in the mass shootings in the city of Christchurch on March 15.
A succession of survivors, religious and civic leaders, along with community members, took the stage in Christchurch, each introduced in the country’s official languages of English, Maori and sign language. An immense crowd of attendees spread across a grass lawn before them.
From a wheelchair onstage, survivor Farid Ahmed, whose wife died in the attack, spoke of forgiveness. “People ask me, ‘Why did you forgive someone who has killed your beloved wife?'” he said.
“I don’t want a heart that is boiling like a volcano, a volcano has anger, fury, rage, it does not have peace,” he said. “I want a heart that will be full of love and care and full of mercy.”
“Probably he has gone through suffering in his life and he could not process the suffering in a constructive way,” Ahmed later said in reference to the shooter. “I do not support his wrongdoing. I cannot deny the fact that he is my human brother.”