Prince William hails 'role model' Muslims after New Zealand massacre in which 51 died

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read

Prince William has offered his help to Muslims in Christchurch as they continue to recover from the massacre which killed 51 people last year.

William visited New Zealand in April 2019 after the terror attack on Al-Noor and Linwood mosque the month before, which was the deadliest in the country’s history.

The gunman, Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, 29, is due to be sentenced after pleading guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism.

The Duke of Cambridge, 37, spoke to Imam Alani Lateef and Imam Gamal Fouda from the mosques, members of the community including Farid Ahmad who lost his wife Husna in the attack, and representatives from the Muslim Association of Canterbury.

He said “As-Salam-u-Alaikum”, meaning “Peace be unto you”, and asked the group about how the impact of the killings has continued to be felt.

William spoke to members of the Muslim community in New Zealand. (Kensington Palace)
William spoke to members of the Muslim community in New Zealand. (Kensington Palace)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 26: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge greets New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Al-Noor Mosque on April 26, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Joseph Johnson - Pool/Getty Images)
Prince William met New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Al-Noor Mosque in April 2019. (Getty Images)

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Dahabo Ali said she knows some family are “still in shock” with some raw emotions resurfacing after Tarrant pleaded guilty.

Asked about the impact on the younger generation of Muslims, she said: “The youth are making Islamic identity normal so Islamophobia is something of the past rather than something continuing to fight every single day.

“People are continuing to not only feel safe but have their voices heard and being seen in New Zealand.

“I think with everything that happened we are being heard and seen and things are changing.”

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 26: In this handout photo provided by the New Zealand Government, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visits Christchurch Hospital on April 26, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/The New Zealand Government via Getty Images)
The Duke of Cambridge visited Christchurch Hospital during the trip. (The New Zealand Government via Getty Images)

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The duke told them: “I’m really proud of all of you, the whole community and the New Zealand Government for how you have all dealt with such an atrocity.

“You are a role model for how something so tragic can be negotiated with the utmost grace and dignity.

“I only hope that it’s been a year now and acknowledgement memorial of attacks go on at some point that Covid-19 has delayed and I only hope that brings further healing for all of you.

“But I stand here ready to help in any way I can. If there is more than needs to be done don’t hesitate to reach out.”

Britain's Prince William (L) greets a boy as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (C) looks on at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch on April 26, 2019. - Prince William is on a two day visit to New Zealand to show his support for Christchurch after the resent mosque attacks that claimed 50 lives. (Photo by TRACEY NEARMY / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read TRACEY NEARMY/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince William spoke to Muslims at the mosque after the attack. (Getty Images)

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The group, like Muslims around the world, is observing Ramadan, which ends this year on 23 May.

Prince William spoke to them after Iftar, the evening meal which follows the fast.

Faisal Sayed, general secretary of Linwood Islamic Centre, said the community had “rallied together” and created a “very unique Ramadan” with Imams using social media to speak to their members and food being delivered to families.