Mar 28, 2019

Community gathers at Christchurch national memorial service

Photo: ANTHONY WALLACE/Getty Images

New Zealand held a national remembrance service for victims of the Christchurch massacre on Friday (local time), as the country continues to grieve the 50 people who died in the mass shootings on March 15.

Driving the news: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the sombre, but sprawling crowd, which welcomed her with a standing ovation.

"Racism exists, but it is not welcome here. An assault on the freedom on any one of us who practices their faith or religion is not welcome here ... Over the past two weeks, we've heard the stories of those impacted by this terrorist attack. They were stories of bravery, they were stories of those who were born here, grew up here, or who had made New Zealand their home. These stories, they now form part of our collective memories, they will remain with us forever. They are us."
ā€” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

She concluded her speech by saying "As-Salam Alaikum," meaning "peace be upon you," in Arabic.

What's next: The shooting suspect will appear in court in early April.

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