William calls for unity against extremism

Prince William greeted by Imam Gamal Fouda at the Masjid Al Noor in Christchurch.
Prince William greeted by Imam Gamal Fouda at the Masjid Al Noor in Christchurch.

Prince William has called for unity in eradicating extremism as he met survivors of the New Zealand mosque shootings.

Gathering on Friday with members of the Muslim community at Christchurch's Al Noor mosque, where 42 of the March 15 attack's victims were killed, the Duke of Cambridge spoke of how the city had demonstrated a way to fight hate and extremism with love.

"The message from Christchurch and the message from Al Noor and Linwood mosques could not be more clear - the global ideology of hate will fail to divide us," William said.

With video of the attack that killed 50 live-streamed and widely circulated on Facebook, and much concern about the presence of white supremacy online, William also pointed to a need to change the internet.

"We must unite to reform the social technology that allowed hateful propaganda to inspire the murder of innocents," he told the audience of about 100.

During the speech that began in Maori and then Arabic, the Duke also praised the compassionate approach the community, country and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had taken in the aftermath of the shootings.

"In a moment of acute pain, you stood up and you stood together. And in reaction to tragedy, you achieved something remarkable," he said.

"In the weeks that followed March 15, the moral compass of the world was centred here in Christchurch."

Farid Ahmed, whose wife Husna Ahmed died at the Al Noor Masjid, spoke before the Prince, saying "we have to keep up hope and not surrender to hatred".

Ardern, who was in attendance, later described the meeting with survivors as emotional and the Duke's words as "powerful".

William also attended the Linwood mosque, the second terror attack site, later in the day.

But while much of his two-day visit to New Zealand has been solemn and under heavy police guard due to ongoing security fears, it ended on a more conventionally royal note.

Hundreds of watchers gathered along the banks of Christchurch's Avon River to see the Duke take a stroll and a lay a wreath at the city's earthquake memorial.

The lingering security situation didn't deter the second-in-line to the throne from shaking hands and taking plenty of time to chat with the enthusiastic public.

Among the cheering crowds was five-year-old Cantabrian Tilly Pearce, who dreams of one day visiting London to have tea with the Queen.

The youngster, holding a sign which read "Prince William I love your grandmother", shook hands with the duke and had a short chat with him about her love for the monarch. Speaking afterwards, Tilly beamed and declared: "It was really exciting."

The Prince's second day in New Zealand had begun with an appearance at Christchurch Hospital, where five of those injured in the attack are still in care.

It wasn't the first stop William had made at a hospital since landing in the country.

Between public engagements on Thursday, he managed a quiet visit to a five-year-old girl in Auckland who was critically injured in the attack and recently woke from a coma.

William's first day in New Zealand began with a tribute to Australian and New Zealand soldiers at an Anzac Day service in Auckland, again alongside Ardern.

He is expected to leave the country shortly.

With PA

Australian Associated Press