Women across New Zealand and beyond put on headscarves Friday morning in a show of support for the Muslim community one week after a gunman opened fire inside two mosques and killed at least 50 people gathered for prayer.
As worshipers came together for Jum’ah — or weekly Friday prayer — women all over the world were sharing pictures of themselves sporting headscarves, typically associated with the Msulim religion. Wearing a hijab is an Islamic tradition many Muslim women choose to observe as a means to symbolize their devotion to god and commitment to their faith.
Thaya Ashman, a doctor in Auckland, organized the show of support and dubbed the movement “Headscarf for Harmony.”
“This is a headscarf which both women and men throughout the world, have been wearing since time immemorial,” she told ABC News. “It’s a simple invitation to the whole of New Zealand to show our support but also to recognize our grief as New Zealand.”
But the movement has reached beyond just New Zealanders — the “Headscarf for Harmony” Facebook page is full of photos of women from the UK and the United States in addition to those from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, all of them wearing headscarves in solidarity.
The event was open to both men and women and there were no rules around how one should wear their scarf. Ashman told the New Zealand Herald she referred to them as headscarves rather than hijabs to take away the cultural formalities.
She noted that she got the idea after she heard a Muslim woman on a news program discussing how she was afraid to go outside because of her headscarf.
“I wore this scarf with pride and hope today. Pride that I live in a country where actions of one hateful individual can unite us in love, regardless of religion or race,” one participant, Whitney Channings, wrote on Facebook.
“My heart breaks for our Muslim community and the city that I once called home. But I hope that we will continue to stand together for a better, safer and more inclusive future for everyone.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earned widespread praise for wearing a black scarf while mourning with the Muslim community in wake of the mass shootings. On Thursday, she also announced sweeping and immediate changes to New Zealand’s gun laws, including a ban on assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons.
Dozens of worshipers were gathered inside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch on March 15 when a gunman unleashed a hail of bullets, killing 41 people and injuring several others. Authorities said the shooter then drove a few miles away and again opened fire inside a Linwood mosque, killing another seven. Two more people struck by bullets died at area hospitals from their wounds.
Authorities later arrested Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australia native who identified himself as the shooter in an anti-immigration manifesto published online ahead of the terrorist attack. He so far faces one count of first degree murder, though authorities have said he may face additional charges in the future.
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