HEARTBROKEN city Muslims have been left in a state of shock after a racist gunned down 49 people praying in two mosques in New Zealand.
The twisted assailant – believed to be a white supremacist – charged into sites in Christchurch before unleashing chaos, slaughtering innocent worshippers.
The atrocity sent shock waves around the globe and left Portsmouth’s Muslim community in mourning.
Islamic leaders rallied to host prayer services in honour of those killed in the barbaric assault.
While police and politicians contacted or visited mosques and other religious groups to offer messages of reassurance.
Dozens of people gathered at Portsmouth’s Jami Mosque, in Victoria Road North, to honour those killed.
Among them was Osama Shihadeh who said: ‘I feel terrible. The whole community is really sad.
‘Our prayers are with the victims and the victims’ families. May God give them peace, forgiveness and a better ending and give us all patience.
‘Let’s hope this is a lesson for all of us and all communities to come together and eradicate extremism everywhere.’
Visibly shaken Salique Rahman, acting president of the mosque, was devastated by the killings and said: ‘I feel so bad for the victims. I really am speechless – I can’t say anything about it.
‘It’s heartbreaking that 49 Muslims have died and it’s shocking for the world’s Muslim community.’
Titchfield’s Al Mahdi Centre was inundated by messages of support from the community.
Imam Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, resident Alim at the mosque said he was touched by the response and said people needed ‘strong and resilient’ to show there was no place for ‘right-wing’ terrorism to fester.
The religious leader also turned his attention to the government and urged them to take greater action to stamp out the rising tide of hate crime against Muslims.
‘I would like to see more action taken rather than just words of solidarity and condolence,’ he said. ‘There has to be a meaningful response. We need to ensure there is no place for bigotry and extremist messages to spread.’
Penny Mordaunt, international development secretary, was among the politicians showing her support for the Muslim community.
The Portsmouth North MP, who visited the Jami mosque, said: ‘Everyone has been really shaken and shocked by the atrocity.
‘It’s a devastating thing to have happened but I think people are just shocked it happened in New Zealand and in such a sleepy area as Christchurch.
‘A lot of the people at the mosque today were very upset.
‘At times like this we just all need to stand together and send a clear message that terrorism and hate will never win.’
Police in New Zealand have charged one man, a 28-year-old from Australia, with murder. He is due to appear in court later tomorrow.