By Daniel Piotrowski in Christchurch
Defiant Muslim leaders are planning to re-open the tragic Al Noor mosque at the centre of Christchurch massacre for prayers on Friday, saying they won’t let the terrorists win.
And the building will continue to operate as a mosque in the long term despite being the scene of more than 40 killings during last week’s prayers.
Dr Anwar Ghani, a spokesman for the New Zealand Muslim Association (NZMA), said worshippers were determined to return and pray.
‘There is a desire to go and pray at that place because the person who did this, he did this for the purpose of terrorising and creating fear,’ Dr Ghani told Daily Mail Australia.
Brenton Harrison Tarrant (pictured), 28, who is charged over Friday’s terror attack
‘He has not succeeded and he will not succeed.’
The local Islamic community wants to turn the moment of tragedy into one of hope and reconciliation.
‘You cannot meet the darkness with darkness. You can only have the light in the darkness, to see your way through,’ said Dr Ghani, a former president of the local Islamic association. ‘That will be the philosophy going forward’.
Dr Ghani’s remarks came as police began to empty the ‘car graveyard’ behind the mosque. Worshippers’ vehicles have been abandoned behind the complex since the shooting while forensic police have pored over the premises.
Massacre survivor Tarik Chenafa is still waiting for his car to be returned, with officers telling him today that police smashed the window while clearing the premises. ‘Maybe they thought there could have been a bomb in it,’ Mr Chenafa said.
He lived by ‘making my body into a ball’ and smashing it through a mosque window.
It’s not just massacre survivors but workers at the local Christchurch hospital whose cars have been trapped behind the police tape.
Officers were photographed handing the keys back to a hospital worker on Tuesday morning.
Both the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood mosque – the second house of worship the gunman attacked – were blessed in a Maori kia kara ceremony on Monday.