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'My job is to make people feel safe': Jacinda Ardern says it was an 'obvious decision' to wear a hijab as she grieved following the massacre of 50 Muslims

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 25/03/2019 Karen Ruiz

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Video provided by The Project

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has spoken about her decision to wear a hijab in solidarity with the Muslim community in the wake of the Christchurch shooting.

The New Zealand leader appeared in an emotional interview with host Waleed Aly on The Project on Monday night where she weighed in on the aftermath of the attack and its impact on the community.

The image of the prime minister wearing a black hijab while comforting the families of Christchurch victims has been seen as 'iconic' © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The image of the prime minister wearing a black hijab while comforting the families of Christchurch victims has been seen as 'iconic' Ms Ardern was asked about her decision to don a black headscarf as she comforted victims' families - an image that has since become 'iconic.'

'I've gave it really little thought, it was so obvious to me that it would be the appropriate thing to do,' she said. 

'What I underestimated was that it gave people a sense of security. It didn't occur to me for a moment that there would be those women in the community who felt unsafe, wearing, so obviously, their faith. 

Jacinda Ardern wearing a black shirt: Ms Ardern said the decision to wear a hijab 'was so obvious to me that it would be the appropriate thing to do' © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Ms Ardern said the decision to wear a hijab 'was so obvious to me that it would be the appropriate thing to do'

'So if in wearing the hijab as I did, gave them a sense of security to continue to practice their faith, then I'm very pleased I did it.   

'My job is to make people feel safe, the idea that people currently do not I find deeply distressing and it's my job to bring that sense of security back.'

Ms Ardern spoke on how the nation has been forced to come to terms with the fact that such a crime could take place in a country known for its inclusivity and peacefulness. 

While New Zealand is known for its peaceful values, she acknowledged that the country still has issues it must work on © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited While New Zealand is known for its peaceful values, she acknowledged that the country still has issues it must work on And while New Zealand is known for those values, she acknowledged that the country still has issues it must work on.  

'The values of tolerance and inclusion and peace - those are New Zealand values. That is not to say there are not pockets of ideology that are counter to our values - that we as a nation utterly reject - but we would be naive to think we're the only country in the world that didn't have pockets of that,' she said.   

'You'll hear New Zealanders reflect the fact that what happened here was not an act by a New Zealand citizen, but that does not mean that there are not things we need to address here, we do. And that's the bigger project.' 

a couple of people that are talking to each other: Ms Ardern spoke on how the nation has been forced to come to terms with the fact that such a crime could take place in a country known for its inclusivity and peacefulness © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Ms Ardern spoke on how the nation has been forced to come to terms with the fact that such a crime could take place in a country known for its inclusivity and peacefulness

When asked about her reaction towards learning the alleged perpetrator was Australian, Ms Ardern replied: 'That was news that did take some time for me to process.' 

She added: 'But again, I think that New Zealanders are reflecting on the fact that it was not one of us because in part it helps them process what has happened here. But they do not point it out in an attempt to blame. That is not the reason why it's raised.'

Ms Ardern said that New Zealand has been 'deliberate' in labelling the shooting as a 'terrorist attack' against the Muslim community.

a man in a suit and tie: The New Zealand leader appeared in an emotional interview with host Waleed Aly on The Project on Monday night where she weighed in on the aftermath of the attack and its impact on the community © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The New Zealand leader appeared in an emotional interview with host Waleed Aly on The Project on Monday night where she weighed in on the aftermath of the attack and its impact on the community

'We will keep being deliberate in our language because the Muslim community here themselves have called this out as an act of violent extremism and we as a nation reject violent extremism in all its forms,' she said.      

Aly's first encounter with the New Zealand leader was in stark contrast to his meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last Thursday. 

Tensions had reached boiling point onscreen on when Mr Morrison and Aly spoke about comments the politician allegedly made about using anti-Muslim sentiment to win points with voters during a shadow cabinet meeting in 2010. 

On Monday, Ms Ardern and Aly shared a warm embraced while she called the journalist's emotional remarks on The Project 'incredible.' 

The prime minister also gave a message to her neighbours across the ditch, thanking them for their support.    

'To Australia I just say, thank you. Thank you for the solidarity and the support. We're family, we're absolutely family and so we've felt their support acutely. And the message I've been sharing with every global leader is our job is to share love and support for our Muslim communities around the world.'

Related slideshow: Jacinda Ardern's life in pictures

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