Sheikh Muhammad Fahad had wondered whether his shoes were still at the Al Noor Mosque.

He fled the central Christchurch mosque barefoot when a gunman stormed in last Friday, killing 41 worshippers.

In a hugely symbolic moment, the mosque was reopened yesterday and Fahad was one of the first through its doors. His shoes had been thrown out, he said.

"They had spots of blood on them. So they didn't want them. They wanted everything completely, completely clean."

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Sheikh Muhammad Fahad made an emotional return to the Al Noor Mosque yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Sheikh Muhammad Fahad made an emotional return to the Al Noor Mosque yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Any evidence that an atrocity had taken place just a week ago had been erased.

Fresh white paint was still drying on the walls. The carpet had been ripped out and had not yet been replaced. Bullet holes had been plastered over. Outside, new roses had been planted.

Two men kneeled and prayed on the right hand side of the mosque's main room. Four women prayed on the left. It was peacefully quiet, with only a faint hum from the air conditioning unit and the distant rumble of traffic.

There were small, mundane reminders of what life was like before New Zealand's worst terrorist attack. Signs on a notice board reminded of upcoming community elections, and leaflets advertised "Weekly Women's Activities, Tuesdays and Thursdays".

The bottom half of a broken window which Fahad crawled through had been replaced.

Walking through the mosque's halls, he was still haunted. He could hear the shooter's gunfire and could picture him firing back down the corridor.

His close friend, Naeem Rashid, was killed in that corridor after trying to wrest the gun from the alleged killer.

"It was very emotional," Fahad said, "I was remembering everything."

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People return to Al Noor Mosque yesterday afternoon. Photo / Alan Gibson
People return to Al Noor Mosque yesterday afternoon. Photo / Alan Gibson

Hozef Yohra, who survived by hiding in an office, said returning to the mosque brought back dark memories. As he hid, he feared his mobile phone would ring and expose him. Luckily, his friends who were trying to find him accidentally called his office number.

The congregation would not be cowed by the attack. Asked if he feared another, he said: "If it happens it happens. It is in Allah's hands."

Reopening the mosque, Imam Gamal Fouda said the shooting was "a turning point in New Zealand history" and should put an end to Islamaphobia and hateful rhetoric around the world.

Quoting the Prophet Muhammad, he said: "People are equal like the teeth of a comb."

The shootings have had global reverberations. Prince of Jordan El Hassan bin Talal, who is in New Zealand to support Jordanian victims, paid a visit to the mosque yesterday.

Clearly moved by the visit, he told reporters: "It is a moment of deep anguish for all us, all of humanity".

But he also praised New Zealand's response to the tragedy, saying the world could learn from its "solidarity and the human love and compassion that has been so manifest in everything".