Hundreds come together in Orlando to honor victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

Survivors, family members of Pulse nightclub victims show support

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Hand in hand and singing "Amazing Grace," dozens of people built a large healing circle at Lake Eola to show their support for the lives lost during the New Zealand mosque shootings.

"In Orlando, we know what it means to go through pain, but we also understand what it means to find power in this pain, and that's what we're doing," organizer Rasha Mubarak said.

New Zealand police released an update saying they found another body at one of the mosques attacked, bringing the total number of lives lost in the shootings to 50.

"It could be me, it could be any of us, and this is not the world we should be living in," organizer Nuren Haider said.

For many at the vigil, what happened in New Zealand hit close to home, not because of proximity, but because of the number of lives lost, similar to what happened in Orlando nearly three years ago.

Christine Leinonen's son was killed during the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016.

"When I was grieving and newly grieving, people surrounded me with their love," she said. "Now the Muslim community needs to know that non-Muslims all over the world love them and support them, and that's why we're here."

"When tragedies occur around the world, we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to support those communities and families of the victims," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

The Islamic Center of Orlando will be hosting a similar healing circle event from 3-5 p.m. Sunday.

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