Highlanders lift spirits at city mosque

The Highlanders turned out in full force today to show their support for the Muslim community following the Christchurch shootings last week.

The squad visited the Al Huda mosque in Dunedin's Clyde St alongside scores of people intent on paying their respects.

The players presented the mosque with a unique signed jersey, with a special message that read: “In Loving Memory of the lives lost at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque Linwood Islamic Centre 15.03.19. You are us.”

Chairman of the Otago Muslim Association Dr Mohammed Rizwan said he was amazed at the constant support from both the Highlanders and the wider community.

Heading into Friday prayers tomorrow, Dr Rizwan said things will continue as normal, but with heavily saddened hearts.

Ben Smith shakes a boy's hand as he arrives with the Highlanders at the Al Huda mosque in Dunedin today. Photo: Christine O'Connor
Ben Smith shakes a boy's hand as he arrives with the Highlanders at the Al Huda mosque in Dunedin today. Photo: Christine O'Connor

Members of the community, including tertiary and primary school students, were also present to witness the event. One Carisbrook School student said he was very excited to see the haka and even though it was not performed, he was still very grateful for their support. 

Following the visit, a civic vigil will be held at Forsyth Barr Stadium tonight, at which more than 20,000 people are expected. However, due to a Super Rugby game in Auckland, the Highlanders will be unable to attend.

Last Saturday, the match between the Highlanders and Crusaders was cancelled following the shooting.

Alongside the support from the Highlanders, the University of Otago also showed support to Muslim community by hosting Hijab Day today, after some individuals were too scared and anxious to wear their hijab in public after Friday’s horrific ordeal.

The Highlanders show its support for the Muslim community during a visit to Dunedin's Al Huda mosque today. Photo: Christine O'Connor
The Highlanders show its support for the Muslim community during a visit to Dunedin's Al Huda mosque today. Photo: Christine O'Connor

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