Communities across Aotearoa were left heartbroken and shocked following the terror attack, which targeted supermarket shoppers in Auckland and injured seven people.
Mohamed Nalar, former president of the Sri Lankan Society, said community leaders had been talking since the attack, as they tried to comprehend what had happened.
“We’re gutted,” he said. “It’s reminded us of 2019, and like we did then, the country needs to come together because it is a great place.”
The Sri Lankan community in Auckland was praying and hoping for the best for the victims, he said, and was also grateful for support from other New Zealanders.
He said the attacker did not appear to be well known in Auckland, and they’d never crossed paths. “He seems to be a disturbed young man, who’s struggled and been in custody for a while,” he said. “He’s not been active in the community.”
Terror attack survivors at Al Noor Mosque and the Muslim Association of Canterbury started fundraising for the victims of the supermarket terror attack on Friday night, through a Give A Little page.
On the page, Fouda called for New Zealand to “be kind and stay strong”, saying his community were horrified that another terror attack had taken place in New Zealand.
“We pray for the recovery of the injured and for the safety of our country,” he said.
A terrorist stabbed seven people at Countdown, in LynnMall, Auckland on Friday, before police fatally shot him.
The terrorist was a lone-wolf, inspired by Daesh, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. He was known to police, the security services, the courts, and she said the police’s special tactics group had been following him.
He moved to New Zealand from Sri Lanka in 2011, she said, and had come to the attention of authorities in 2016.
Temel Atacocugu, a survivor of the March 15 terror attack, said he wanted to encourage Kiwis to stand together against radical hatred and terrorism.
Speaking to Stuff on Saturday, he said it felt like the Auckland terrorist had stepped into his chest and was crushing his heart. He said many New Zealanders would be feeling the same, and he hoped the country would support each other and the Government to stamp out terror and hate.
“We must show the world we are one. We are heartbroken but not broken,” he said. “Kia kaha.”
Atacocugu was shot nine times on March 15, 2019. He said Friday’s terror attack had caused flashbacks to that day.
“I had a terrible feeling, I was totally surprised. It caused flashbacks, and I felt deep sadness in my heart,” he said.
Like many, he said he was praying for the victims of the New Lynn attack.
“My heart is with these victims and I send them all my love, I wish I could visit them in hospital but of course because of the pandemic I cannot travel.”
He reiterated, that Isis did not represent the Muslim community or Islam – and it caused harm to Muslims across the world and in New Zealand.
“Violence in the name of any faith or ideology is not acceptable. If we agree on this, then we must expect law in New Zealand that is strong enough to stop terrorist acts before they happen,” he said.
Faleel Gaffoor, president of the Sri Lankan Society of New Zealand, issued a statement to pay respect to the victims of Friday’s attack and to the police who responded.
“Our hearts and our thoughts are with the innocent people who were injured and their families,” he said.
“A terrorist who attacks innocent and defenseless people is not one of us. We wholeheartedly condemn the act of violence carried out by this individual and his ideology. This horrific act has no place in any religion, race or ethnicity.”
Other groups, such as the United Sri Lanka Association, shared statements expressing their sadness after the attack.
“These horrendous actions and beliefs by this individual don’t represent the wider Sri Lankan community, who consider New Zealand as home,” the association said.
By midday Saturday, more than 10,000 had been donated to the New Lynn Terrorist Attack Victims Fund.