SkyTower lights up in honour of Baghdad bomb victims

By Nicole Barratt

The SkyTower will light up tonight as the local Iraqi community mourns last Sunday's bomb victims. Photo / Dean Purcell
The SkyTower will light up tonight as the local Iraqi community mourns last Sunday's bomb victims. Photo / Dean Purcell

Auckland's Sky Tower will be lit in the red, white and black colours of the Iraqi flag tonight in honour of last week's Baghdad bomb victims.

Kiwi-Iraqi Rania Alani expressed her frustration to SkyCity that the landmark was not lit up after a suicide bomber killed 175 people and wounded almost 200 on Sunday.

SkyCity acting general manager Matt Ballesty said lighting the Sky Tower tonight was a way to support the Iraqi community.

"We have many people in our Iraqi community who are hurting and are deeply impacted by this tragedy, and this is a small way that we can express our love and solidarity.

"The Sky Tower is an iconic structure that Aucklanders love. We light it for many different reasons including national holidays, in support of charity, and to show our solidarity and support with other world landmarks following certain global events."

He said the Sky Tower could never reflect all the disasters and tragedy in the world, nor all the celebrations.

"But we do our best to help mark key moments that the public wish to show their support for and we are pleased to be lighting it this evening."

The Iraqi community is holding a candlelight vigil at the Mission Bay fountain at 7.30pm tonight in solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, as well as support one another in a time of grief.

In June, the Sky Tower was lit up in rainbow colours to commemorate the 49 victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

The landmark was also lit up in red, white and blue for France following the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 120 people.

And on Friday the Sky Tower will switch to rainbow lighting to mark the 30th anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill.

Ms Alani, who posted her letter on SkyCity's Facebook page yesterday morning, said she was "very happy" the SkyTower would light up, but "it was never about the lights. It's about compassion."

"I was disappointed that they didn't acknowledge the attack. It broke my heart a bit. The thing is, if they're going to acknowledge Paris, why not Iraq? It was families killed, mainly women and children, at a shopping mall."

Ms Alani said she had been flooded with comments and messages on Facebook, both positive and negative.

"There was a very positive response, which is why I'm proud to be a New Zealander. But then there were people sending extremely offensive comments to my personal Facebook, like 'I'm going to come and kill you at night'.

"It's scary that that's happening in New Zealand."

- NZ Herald

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