New Zealand shooting: Parliament opens session with reading from Quran

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has offered to pay the funeral costs of victims

Carly-May Kavanagh
Tuesday 19 March 2019 17:07
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New Zealand parliament opens with Quran reading

The Quran was recited during New Zealand’s parliament session on Tuesday, the first since last week's terrorist attack on two mosques that claimed 50 lives.

A Muslim imam led prayers in parliament, in what is being seen as a gesture of solidarity with the victims of the shooting.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has received international praise for her response to the attack including offering to pay the funeral costs of victims, started her speech with the phrase “As-Salaam-Alaikum”, an Arabic greeting meaning ‘peace be unto you’.

She encouraged people to acknowledge the Muslim community’s grief on Friday – the Muslim day of worship, and one week since the attack, and vowed that the full force of the law will come down on the attacker.

The verses come from chapter al-Baqarah (The Cow), which emphasise patience, prayers, and justice on judgement day.

This is thought to be the first time the Quran has been read in the New Zealand parliament.

Ibrahim Kalin, Chief Counsellor to the President of the Turkish Republic, said: “I commend the [parliament] for this heartwarming and graceful act. It is these acts of kindness and resolution that will defeat terrorism and fascism.”

Prime Minister Ardern has been vocal about her refusal to name the attacker, who has been charged, saying: “I implore you, speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them.

"He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless."

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