Yusuf/Cat Stevens gifts ‘peace train’ to Christchurch for mosque attack response

British singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam, better known as Cat Stevens, announced the special gift in a video message.  (File photo)

Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

British singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam, better known as Cat Stevens, announced the special gift in a video message. (File photo)

Christchurch, its citizens and several community groups have received awards of valor for responding to the attacks on the mosque.

The Royal Humane Society of New Zealand presented the awards on Friday evening at a ceremony to mark the opening of the Christchurch Invitation: Mahia Te Aroha at the James Hay Theater.

The city also received a peace procession from British singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam, better known as Cat Stevens, who announced the special gift in a video message.

The battery-powered ride-on model Peace Train, an allusion to its 1971 hit of the same name, has four wagons for children and families and runs without tracks.

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The locomotive is often used at festivals and special occasions to spread the message of peace and inclusion to children, according to Islam’s charity website.

Stuff anticipates it will arrive in town in the coming months and run from a public space that’s free for everyone.

The peace train is often used at parties and special occasions to convey the message of peace and inclusion to children.

Delivered

The peace train is often used at parties and special occasions to convey the message of peace and inclusion to children.

The Christchurch invitation comes from members of the city’s Muslim community and is described as a path of hope following the shooting that killed 51 people on March 15, 2019.

The Governor General and Patroness of the Society, Dame Patsy Reddy, presented seven awards. The recipients of these were: Masjid An-Nur and the Linwood Islamic Center and their communities, St. John, the staff of the Canterbury District Health Board, the Union and Community Health Center Piki Te Ora, the New Zealand Police and the city and citizens of Christchurch.

Sara Qasem, daughter of the shot victim Abdelfattah Qasem, read a poem called Labels in honor of her father at the invitation of Christchurch: Mahia Te Aroha.

Christchurch City Council / Stuff

Sara Qasem, daughter of the shot victim Abdelfattah Qasem, read a poem called Labels in honor of her father at the invitation of Christchurch: Mahia Te Aroha.

Society president Austin Forbes QC previously said Stuff gold medals would only be awarded in exceptional circumstances. Only two have been awarded in the past 50 years. The other went to Christchurch and its residents after the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011.

The sold-out event also included several key speeches from prominent community leaders such as Dame Patsy, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Christchurch Invitation Co-Founder, Anthony Green, Dr. Te Maire Tau, Ūpoko by Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Imam Sheik Gamal Fouda and others, young representatives of the city.

Speaking at the event, Green said Christchurch had a unique opportunity to build on and support the extraordinary acts of Aroha that united the city in the days and weeks following the attacks.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON / STUFF

Abdelfattah Qasem was killed in the Masjid Al Noor mosque. His wife Siham remembers this gentle man. (Video first released in March 2019)

“Something powerful happened here – in the midst of tragedy, we saw our common humanity and came together in a way that resonated around the world. Christchurch and New Zealand chose compassion over hate and that resonated everywhere. ”

Sara Qasem, daughter of the shot victim Abdelfattah Qasem, read a poem called Labels in honor of her father.

She said those who shared her stories “took a risk” and allowed themselves to be “vulnerable”. She hoped this would encourage others to “choose courage.”