All you need to know about New Zealand’s 2-minute silence for the Christchurch shooting victims

Locals lay flowers in tribute to those killed and injured at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand.(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
  • A two-minute silence will be held at Christchurch’s Hagley Park, and thousands of people are expected to attend.
  • The service will be broadcast nationally across all of the major TV and radio stations.
  • The silence will be held to remember the 50 victims of the Christchurch shooting massacre.

Thousands from across New Zealand are expected to come to Christchurch’s Hagley Park for a call to prayer and two minutes of silence one week after 50 people were killed in a terrorist attack.

Friday’s service will start with the call to prayer, which will be broadcast nationally across all major free-to-air TV and radio stations.

The Muslim Call to Prayer for the Friday congregational prayer, the Jumu’ah, will be broadcast at 1.30pm, and will be followed by a two-minute silence at 1.32pm, at Hagley Park, opposite the Masjid Al Noor in Deans Ave.

TVNZ and RNZ will broadcast the call, and MediaWorks has confirmed it will follow suit on television station Three and radio station Magic Talk. NZME will also broadcast it on Newstalk ZB.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, community leaders, and about 30 foreign dignitaries have been invited to the event by the Muslim community to be part of the official proceedings.

The Muslim community will then pray from 1.34pm until about 2pm, with the crowd asked to remain silent.

The event will end with a brief closing remark from Ardern about 2.02pm.

The adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, is called out from mosques five times a day, to summon Muslims for worship.

Victoria University religious studies lecturer Eva Nisa said the timing of the prayer was determined by the positioning of the sun, so the timing of prayers by a few minutes depended on which region they are in.

She said practising Muslims would time their prayers to their specific region.

“When you fast, there are Muslims in Wellington who will break fast when other areas are still fasting, because of the sun.”

For non-Muslims who hear the call to prayer on Friday, Nisa said the best thing to do was “just be quiet and listen”.

“Muslims respect that call a lot, so ideally they have to listen. In some countries, if there is a call during a seminar or a lecture, they might stop until it is over.”

A man writes the word salam (peace in Arabic) at a makeshift memorial in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 17, 2019. Photo: Kyodo News via Getty Images

The person tasked with reciting the call is called the muezzin.

Historically, the muezzin would recite the adhan from on top of a tall balcony on the mosque, though these days many mosques are equipped with loud speakers.

The call to prayer differs slightly in the different sects of Islam, mostly around the number of times each line is repeated, and some lines are left out, or only read during Fajr, the dawn prayer.

The majority of Muslims in New Zealand are Sunni.

The call to prayer is read is read in Arabic. A translation of the Sunni call to prayer is below:

God is the greatest (4x)

I acknowledge there are no other gods but the One God (2x)

I acknowledge that Muhammad is the messenger of God (2x)

Come to prayer (2x)

Come to salvation (2x)

Prayer is better than sleep (2x) (Only at Fajr, the dawn prayer)

God is the greatest (2x)

There are no other gods but the One God (2x)

A national two minutes of silence was last held in 2010, to commemorate the 29 men who died at the Pike River mine disaster.

Vigils will continue to be held around the country on Friday evening.

Events taking place around the time of the Friday afternoon prayer, when the two minutes of silence will be observed, include:


Love Aotearoa Hate Racism activists will host Kia Kaha: Stand Against Racism in Aotea Square on Sunday at 2pm.


New Zealanders of all faiths are invited to create “a human chain of protection” around the Kilbirnie mosque from 1.15pm to 2.15pm on Friday.


The Nelson Islamic Cultural Society will hold a special service at its mosque at 320 Hardy St on March 22. The programme includes a holding hands session at 12.30pm, Friday prayer at 1.30pm and a prayer for the victims at 2pm. Everyone is welcome to attend one or all sessions.


Community members are invited to join hands to create a human wall around Masjid Al Noor in Deans Ave on the edge of Hagley Park on Friday at 1.20pm.

A vigil is set to be held outside the mosque from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Attendees are asked to bring a candle or flowers.

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