As Whanganui is about to celebrate Race Unity Day in Majestic Square tomorrow, organiser Vijeshwar Prasad says the community is reeling from news of shootings at two Christchurch mosques.

Prasad was responding to the news that at least 27 people had been killed at the Masjid Al Noor on Deans Ave and the Linwood Masjid on Linwood Ave this afternoon.

"People are scared and I have been getting a lot of calls.

"We are wondering what this is about and we don't know if it was an attack on Muslims, someone angry about refugee settlement or something else.

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"We knew something like this could happen in New Zealand but we hoped it would not and we are not prepared for it."
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Masjid-E-Bilal mosque in Whanganui East stood eerily deserted this afternoon. Photo / Stuart Munro
Masjid-E-Bilal mosque in Whanganui East stood eerily deserted this afternoon. Photo / Stuart Munro

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Prasad is president of the Multicultural Council of Rangitīkei/Whanganui and the group has been organising a number of multicultural celebration events ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21.
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"People who have this hatred inside them need to seek help and not take it out on other innocent people."

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Mr Prasad said it will be very sad if people now need to be hyper-vigilant about cultural and religious gatherings.

"People who have this hatred inside them need to seek help and not take it out on other innocent people."

"We can live nicely together and Race Unity Day is intended to be a celebration of how we can do that."
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Multicultural Council president hopes that Whanganui people will gather to celebrate racial unity after mosque shootings in Christchurch. Photo/Bevan Conley
Multicultural Council president hopes that Whanganui people will gather to celebrate racial unity after mosque shootings in Christchurch. Photo/Bevan Conley

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He hopes that people will support the event and highlight the need for tolerance and understanding in the local community.

The race Unity event starts at 11am at Majestic Square and is scheduled to run through to 2pm.