Wednesday Mar 20, 2019
CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday said the nation will observe a two-minute silence in memory of the Christchurch martyrs and the Azaan (the call to prayer) will be broadcast nationally on Friday in solidarity with the Muslim community.
Speaking to media on her second visit to Christchurch, Ardern said, "There is a desire to show support to the Muslim community as they return to mosques, particularly on Friday.”
"To acknowledge this there will be a two minutes' silence on the same day. We will also broadcast nationally, via TVNZ and RNZ, the Azaan," she added.
Ardern said that the government is planning a memorial service for the Christchurch martyrs, adding that it wants to involve the rest of New Zealand too.
Fifty people died in the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch after a lone attacker opened fire during Friday prayers on March 15. An Australian white supremacist gunman was charged for the killing.
Hundreds of mourners gathered in a Christchurch cemetery for the first funerals of those martyred in the twin mosque massacre as New Zealanders braced for days of emotional farewells following the mass slayings.
Only six of the 50 victims have been returned to their families so far.
Authorities say they are doing all they can to speed up autopsies and the formal identification of those killed.
Police commissioner Mike Bush said that the process had been slow because of the need to identify victims conclusively and to avoid hindering the prosecution.
In a briefing on Wednesday, he said he hoped a further six bodies would be returned to families by midday.
So far 21 victims have been formally identified by the coroners, he added.
"We are doing all we can to undertake this work as quickly as possible and return the victims to their loved ones," police said in a statement.
"While identification may seem straightforward the reality is much more complex, particularly in a situation like this."