In an act of solidarity and symbolism to the Muslim community inside participating in Friday prayer, New Zealanders gathered by the hundreds to create a human chain outside a mosque.
In Wellington, New Zealand, on Friday, people gathered outside the Kilbirnie Mosque in a quiet and moving show of support for the Wellington Islamic Community. The gathering took place one week after mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, left at least 50 people dead.
Images and videos of the human chain circulated on social media, showing how far it reached:
“The atmosphere was sad, quiet, but determined,” Sue Teodoro, who was at the vigil, told CNN. “Many women wore headscarves. Many people cried openly. It was incredibly moving. People were determined that the community should pray without fear today.”
Teodoro later told the publication that “the message from the community was clear: Terrorists will not break New Zealand’s spirit.”
Earlier this week, Christchurch locals also formed a human chain in support of Muslim worshippers in front of the Al Noor mosque.
The human chains appear to be part of a larger movement organized by NZ Stand Together. On Facebook, the organization created an event to support the Muslim community in New Zealand and encouraged followers to form human chains of “love and support” around local mosques.
“Let’s form a human chain of love and support around your local Mosques on Friday at noon so they can pray in peace. We have set the event to start at midday and prayers commence at 1.30pm,” reads the event’s Facebook page. “We need to show our Muslim brothers and sisters that we are here for them. We will peacefully stand together #theyareus#standtogether.”
In light of the horrific attacks, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday that the country would be banning military-style semiautomatic weapons.
“Every semiautomatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned,” Ardern said at a news conference.
In addition to military-style assault rifles, the ban includes high-capacity magazines and tools to modify firearms, and the arms “will be categorized as weapons with an E-class endorsement” until legislation formally passes, according to Ardern.