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Adelaide pays tribute to sister city Christchurch in wake of mosque shootings

ABC News logo ABC News 16/03/2019
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The Christchurch terror attack has sent shockwaves around the world but reactions in sister city Adelaide have been especially heartfelt, with local authorities demanding an end to hate.

Flags in Adelaide are flying at half mast in the wake of at least one gunman attacking worshippers in two Christchurch mosques on Friday, killing 49 and injuring 42 others.

Adelaide was Christchurch's first sister city, and Deputy Lord Mayor Houssam Abiad said locals were standing "shoulder to shoulder" with Christchurch locals.

Mr Abiad, who is Muslim and fled civil war in Lebanon at the age of 19, today expressed his "heartfelt condolences" to the victims of the attack.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with you … your loss is our loss. An attack on your city is an attack on our city," he said.

"We're all in this together, we're battling a global monster and we need to defeat it," he said.

"This is terrifying to many people in our communities, especially when we look at Adelaide being home to one of Australia's oldest mosques."

SA Premier Steven Marshall this morning lowered the flag in Victoria Square, in the heart of Adelaide's CBD, in a gesture of condolence and solidarity.

"We have a strong relationship with Christchurch … it's our longest-established sister city relationship," he said.

"It's frightening that it's occurred in a city which is a comparable size and background to us here in Adelaide. It just means that this can occur, and that's why we must be vigilant."

'They are welcome here', Premier says

Christchurch established its sister city relationship with Adelaide in 1972, but the ties between the two centres date back many more decades.

SA Premier Steven Marshall lowers the flag in Victoria Square. © Provided by ABC News SA Premier Steven Marshall lowers the flag in Victoria Square.

The shared heritage is reflected in Adelaide's informal name the "city of churches", which has been in use since the mid-1800s.

It was Colonel William Light's design for Adelaide that partly inspired the layout of Christchurch.

But Mr Marshall said it was darkness, not light, that was currently prompting authorities in Adelaide to reflect on their ties with the city across the Tasman.

"Yesterday's events were just shocking, they were chilling — it was a dark day for the people of Christchurch and New Zealand but it was a dark day for the world," Mr Marshall said.

"They've been through some very rough times in recent years with earthquakes, and now for this to hit them, they must be reeling."

In recent times Adelaide has experienced extremist acts, including racist incidents outside mosques.

In December 2017, a worshipper was punched in the face at the Marion Mosque at Park Holme. It was the third attack at the mosque during the year.

The previous year, the entrance to an Elizabeth Grove mosque was daubed with swastikas and other racist symbolism.

Mr Marshall said he wanted to "send a very strong message" about the treatment of Muslim people in wider society.

"They are welcome here, they're part of our society, and … we completely reject any acts of violence or terror against anyone," he said.

"We must work together to make sure that this doesn't escalate.

"It's very important that we stand in solidarity with our friends in the Muslim community in South Australia. That's certainly what I'll be doing."

'Not just an Islamic issue', prominent Muslim warns

A vigil for the victims of the attack will be held at the Marion Mosque on Sunday evening, Mr Abiad said.

"We have all come to Australia for a better future … we've escaped some serious atrocities around the world," he said.

Spokesman for Adelaide's Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Muneeb Janud, said he became aware of the incident just before his group held Friday prayers.

"It's not just an Islamic issue. We've seen hate crimes all over the world — against the Jewish community, in Charlottesville, there was a mosque attack in Quebec in Canada not too long ago," he said.

"There is a lot of rhetoric and normalisation, to a certain degree, of white supremacist propaganda.

"This could essentially have happened anywhere."

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas described the Christchurch attack as "barbaric and cowardly".

"It was an attack that targeted innocent people going about their daily lives," he said.

In photos: New Zealand terrorist attack

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