Thousands of people in the New Zealand cities of Auckland and Christchurch attended vigils Sunday to protest racism and to remember the 50 Muslims who were killed in two mosques last week by a white nationalist.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday in a statement that a national remembrance service will be held March 29 to honor the victims of the mass shootings.
The words of black civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were cited by speakers at the vigils Sunday in Christchurch and Auckland, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Thousands of people gathered at a park in Christchurch near the al-Noor Mosque, one of the places of worship that came under attack in last week’s mass shootings. The nearby Linwood mosque was also targeted by the shooter.
The Christchurch event began with an Islamic prayer and the reading of the names of all 50 victims.
A student at Cashmere High School, using the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., told the crowd that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can.” The student urged the crowd to “unite in love and not hatred.”
“Migrant lives matter” and “Refugees welcome here” were among the signs at a march in Auckland, earlier Sunday.
New Zealand authorities have charged 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant with murder in connection with the March 15 attacks on the al-Noor and Linwood mosques. The self-proclaimed white nationalist did not enter a plea in his initial court appearance the day after the attack. His next court appearance is April 5.