Hundreds turn out as Sheffield pays its respects to New Zealand terror attack victims

Sheffield stands with you, New Zealand – that was the message as hundreds attended a vigil to remember those caught up in mosque terror attacks in the country.

People of all religions, and those of no faith, gathered at the Peace Gardens in the city centre tonight to pay their respects to those killed in the Christchurch shootings.

Vigil in the Peace Gardens to pay tribute to those caught up in the New Zealand terror attacks. Picture: Sam Cooper / The Star

Vigil in the Peace Gardens to pay tribute to those caught up in the New Zealand terror attacks. Picture: Sam Cooper / The Star

Around 200 people turned out to show their solidarity and heard speeches from several faith leaders before falling silent to pay respect to those killed.

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Forty-nine people were killed and at least 20 wounded as two mosques in the city were targeted in the deadliest shootings in the country’s history.

Indeejit Bogul, from Sheffield’s Methodist Church, said: “Although it happened on the other side of the road, their pain is our pain. Nobody ever deserves to be treated as anything other than as a child of God.

“This awful, murderous act was not prepared by faith but it was an act on faith in Islam.”

Brenton Tarrant, aged 28, from Australia, has been named in media reports in his home country of Australia as the gunman who live-streamed the attack in Christchurch on Facebook as he shot victims in a mosque.

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In a 74-page manifesto, believed to have been written by Tarrant, he describes himself as an ‘ordinary white man’ who ‘decided to take a stand’.

It also cites the rape of British women by ‘European women invaders’ and includes links to the Rotherham sex abuse scandal.

Mohammed Qari Ismail, Chair of the South Yorkshire Federation of Mosques, said he received a call from the Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire Andrew Coombe, who said it would be ‘better for him to watch the news'.

He told the crowds: “The horrific tragedy is that while he was live streaming, people were supporting him, which is really shameful for all of us.”

Rotherham hit the headlines when an independent report into child sexual exploitation in the town published in 2014 found that 1,400 children were groomed and abused by men of predominantly Pakistan heritage while those in authority failed to act.

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An ammunition clip he posted on Twitter beforehand featured the words ‘for Rotherham’.