PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With heavy hearts, dozens gathered in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park on Saturday to remember the victims of New Zealand’s massacre at two mosques. The death toll has climbed in the terrorist attack allegedly carried out by a white supremacist on Muslim worshipers.
Fifty people are now confirmed dead. Mourners gathered at separate memorials on Saturday to honor those gunned down in the middle of Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch.
The 28-year-old suspected gunman showed no remorse, making a white nationalist hand gesture during his first court appearance.
In a 74-page manifesto posted online, the shooter went on anti-immigrant rants. He is charged with murder and is due back in court next month.
The world is reacting to the racially-motivated shootings. In Philadelphia, an interfaith vigil was held to condemn the violence and show that people of different faiths can support one another.
The mood was somber at LOVE Park. Attendees chose support and solidarity for Muslims living in Philadelphia and the victims in New Zealand.
Prayers in solidarity were expressed with candles and hugs among complete strangers filled LOVE Park.
“It was very humbling to see all of our friends to come out and support us,” a Muslim woman said. “It meant so much to us.”
Muslims were joined by Christians and Jews for an interfaith prayer vigil. All ages and ethnic backgrounds spoke out through signs, sending messages of peace and to mourn the victims of the deadly New Zealand terrorism attacks.
“This is not acceptable in any shape or form and that’s the reason why we all are here,” Yashpal Singh said.
It’s a disturbing reality for newly elected Pennsylvania Rep. Movita Johnson Harrell. On Tuesday, she was elected as the first Hijabi to take state office.
“Peace for this world, peace for this country and peace for this city. Hamine,” Johnson Harrell said.
“It feels like you’re supported by everyone,” Eethar Alsekaf, a student at Northeast High School, said. “You’re not alone in America – many of these stereotypes and everything.”
“To see our commonalities – not to see what separates us,” Rabbi Shelly Barnathan said, “to be there for one another because we’ve all experienced this sadly in this world.”