New Zealand women wear headscarves in powerful display of solidarity after mosque attacks

Sean Morrison

Women in New Zealand have been wearing headscarves to show their solidarity with the Muslim community in the wake of deadly mosque attacks in the country.

The moving tributes come after 50 people were killed in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last Friday and as thousands joined Friday prayers and a two-minute silence today.

Using the hashtags #headscarfforharmony and #ScarvesInSolidarity on Twitter, women shared photographs of themselves wearing the scarves.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led an estimated 5,000 people standing silently on Friday at Hagley Park in front of the Al Noor mosque, where most of the victims died.

"New Zealand mourns with you. We are one," she said in a short speech which was followed by two minutes of silence.

Robyn Molony, 65, was with a group of friend wearing headscarves at Hagley Park, where they walked daily.

“We are wearing headscarves showing our support, love and solidarity, and hope that by everybody doing this it will demonstrate to Muslim women that they are one with us," she said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern greets members of the Muslim community as she attends islamic prayers in Hagley Park (Getty Images)

Images of a grieving Mrs Ardern wearing a black headscarf as she visited families of the victims a day after the attacks were broadcast around the world.

Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand's population, most of whom were born overseas.

"We're not moving on. This grieving is going to take a long time," said 52-year-old Christchurch resident Bell Sibly, who wore a headscarf to show her support.

"But what he's done, he was hoping to divide us, and instead, he's brought us all together in one big hug."

Residents of Christchurch are still recovering from a devastating earthquake that hit in 2011, killing 185 and injured thousands.

Jacinda Ardern attends the Friday prayers at Hagley Park (REUTERS)

"Since the earthquakes, we’ve gone through a lot as a city and we’re a lot more caring and looking out for one another,” said James Sheehan, 62.

Female police at the park also wore headscarfs, with a red rose on their body suit.

In a powerful speech that lasted about 20 minutes, Imam Gamal said through its love and compassion, New Zealand is unbreakable. He thanked Ms Ardern for her compassion.

"It has been a lesson for world leaders," the Imam said of the Prime Minister. "Thank you for holding our families close and honouring us with a simple scarf," he added.

He said Islamophobia dehumanises Muslims, and called on the world to end hate speech and the politics of fear.

People attend the Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch (REUTERS)

"Last week's event is proof and evidence to entire world that terrorism has no colour, race or religion. The rise of white supremacy is a great global threat to humanity and this must end now," he said.

Thousands of people also gathered at other mosques in Auckland and other cities for Friday prayers, with many non-Muslims wearing headscarves.

A #headscarfforharmony movement was trending on Twitter.

Journalists covering the event also wore headscarves for their live broadcasts.

Eleanor Ainge Roy, a Guardian reporter in New Zealand who attended the prayers in Hagley Park, wrote on Twitter: “Friday prayers are now underway in Hagley Park, attended by thousands.

“Those who are not Muslim and are not praying have surrounded the worshippers, silent and staunch in their love and protection for the bereaved community.”