How can you not feel hope?

Locals congregate at Pakuranga’s Masjid Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq. Photo supplied.

A steady procession of people filed past Pakuranga’s Masjid Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq on Friday night as the community came together to stand with Muslim New Zealanders after the tragic events of Christchurch.

Generations of families came, grandparents hugging their own children as they in turn clutched the hands of their little ones.

Schoolchildren were carrying cards and hand-made messages of support, as the piles of flowers lining the fence continued to grow.

Government Minister Willie Jackson joined Councillors Sharon Stewart, Paul Young and Josephine Bartley, Counties Manukau Police District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers, and a host of other dignitaries, in praising the Muslim community for the forgiveness and love they showed – and shared – in the wake of the tragedy.

The mosque was crammed with people from all faiths, including members of the Jewish, Catholic, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian and Protestant communities.

Brother Aby Bakar led the proceedings and said he was touched by the support. “How can you look at all the people, here with their children, and not feel hope?”

Hundreds stayed on to pray with mosque members, while outside a feast of hand-prepared delicacies was laid out as a thank you.

“My only plea,” Brother Bakar said, “is that people don’t make this a one-off, because anyone is welcome here, any time. Our doors, like our hearts, remain open.”