Azaan echoes across New Zealand as Muslims offer Friday prayers


CHRISTCHURCH, The Muslim call to prayer rang out across New Zealand on Friday followed by two minutes of silence nationwide to mark a week since a white supremacist gunned down 50 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

As the call was broadcast around the country, thousands of people – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – stood silently in a park opposite the mosque where the killing began, as the country of 4.5 million came to a standstill.

The massacre by alleged shooter Brenton Tarrant has shocked a nation known for its tolerance. It has prompted horrified Kiwis to respond with vigils and performances of the traditional Maori haka dance, and to form lines behind Muslims to symbolically protect them while they pray.

An imam issued the call to regular Friday prayer at 1.30 pm (0030 GMT) with chants of “Allahu Akhbar” as thousands listened in Christchurch’s Hagley Park across from the Al Noor Mosque.

The country then fell silent for two minutes, with public gatherings in Auckland, Wellington and other cities. (AFP)