Thousands expected to attend Friday prayers in Christchurch

2019-03-21 at 18:10

Thousands of people are expected to attend Friday prayers in Christchurch as the mosque that was hit first in horrific attacks that killed 50 people prepared to reopen.

The imam of Al Noor mosque Gamal Fouda, said he was expecting 3,000 to 4,000, including many coming from abroad, to join the prayer, which is likely to be held in Hagley Park, across the road from the mosque.

Forty-two people were killed at Al Noor mosque, which was the first site targeted by the shooter.

Members of Linwood mosque, where the gunman killed seven people, will attend the joint prayer.

Fouda says mosque workers have been working round-the-clock to repair the destruction from the 15 March attack.

They plan to bury the blood-soaked carpet.

It came as two petitions with a total of 70,000 signatures calling for a ban on semi-automatic weapons was handed to MPs outside parliament, days after prime minister Jacinda Ardern promised New Zealand’s gun laws would change.

On Thursday, Ardern said a two minute silence would be held across the country and that the call to prayer would be broadcast on TVNZ and Radio New Zealand to commemorate the attack.

Meanwhile, funerals continued to take place on Thursday, after bodies began to be released to families on Tuesday night.

At least six more funerals were due to take place on Thursday, including the funeral of Hati Mohammed Daoud Nabi, the 71-year-old man who opened the door of Al Noor mosque to the gunman.