CHRISTCHURCH: Rugby sensation Sonny Bill Williams pulls out of rugby match and joined the congregation of the 20,000-strong crowd for prayers on Friday at Hagley park this afternoon honouring the victims of last week’s terror attacks.
The All Blacks star told reporters that he regularly prayed at the Al Noor Mosque and lost friends in the massacre.
Born into a Christian family, the 33-year-old Sonny Bill converted to Islam in 2008.
He spoke of Islam as a “truly a religion of peace and love” and is hopeful that Kiwis will embrace the Muslim faith more in light of last week’s devastating terror attack in Christchurch .
“My message is about unity, it’s about peace, it’s about love – the core essence of what Islam is.”
“But it shows one thing: We don’t know what Islam is. People don’t really know what Islam is. I feel like to get that light you need that knowledge.
“You need to understand what Islam is so that it can give that light which will get rid of the darkness,” said the footy legend.
On behalf of the ouma (Muslims), thank you New Zealand. Now it’s time for the conversation to start ❤️ pic.twitter.com/cP9l0Hycbs
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) March 22, 2019
After the mosques massacre, Sonny Bill, adevout Muslim put aside any natural shyness adn take a leadership role to “show we are Muslims but New Zealanders too”.
“Being a naturally shy person, I knew that I had to step out and be vulnerable and show that we are Muslims, but we are humans and New Zealanders as well.”
He said the charity he had partnered with to raise funds for victims’ families has raised more than $200,000.
Thousands of Cantabrians including the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined Muslims to show their support for the Islamic community following the attack in New Zealand that claimed 50 lives and injured many.
Call to prayer in Christchurch, outside the Al Noor mosque pic.twitter.com/NwOrs9Isvi
— Martin Fricker (@martinfricker) March 22, 2019