Jacinda Ardern has refused to utter the name of the suspected Christchurch mosque attacker.
The New Zealand prime minister declared “the families of the fallen will have justice” as she made the pledge to ignore Brenton Tarrant.
“He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name,” she said.
Ardern praised the bravery and courage by mosque worshippers, and said the nation stood with its grieving Muslim community.
As preparations for the first burials were underway for the 50 people killed last Friday in the mass shootings at two mosques, Ardern singled out three worshippers, including one of the first killed in the attack.
Hati Mohemmed Daoud Nabi, 71, opened the door to the Al Noor mosque. Ardern said he “uttered the words ‘Hello brother, welcome’. His final words”.
“Of course he had no idea of the hate that sat behind the door, but his welcome tells us so much – that he was a member of a faith that welcomed all its members, that showed openness, and care,” she said.
Ardern said she never anticipated having to voice the grief of a nation and ended her speech with the Arabic greeting “Al salam Alaikum”, meaning “Peace be upon you”.
Australian Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist who was living in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, was charged with murder on Saturday.
Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5, where police said he was likely to face more charges.
“The families of the fallen will have justice,” said Ardern, adding she would never mention the alleged gunman’s name.
The victims, who were killed during Friday prayers, were largely Muslim migrants, refugees and residents from countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Turkey, Kuwait, Somalia and others.
Their bodies were being washed and prepared for burial in a Muslim ritual process on Tuesday, with teams of volunteers flown in from overseas to assist with the heavy workload.
A wheelchair-using worshipper who survived the slaughter at the Al Noor mosque, but whose wife was killed, has offered an olive branch to the gunman, saying he would like to meet him and tell him “I still love you.”
“I don’t agree with what you did … you took a wrong decision, a wrong direction, but I want to believe in you. That you have great potential in your heart,” said Farhid Ahmed, 59.
The attack also left 50 people injured of which 30 still in the Christchurch hospital, authorities said. Nine of them are in a critical condition. One four-year-old child was transferred to a hospital in Auckland in a critical condition.
Anyone caught sharing a video of the massacre made by Tarrant in New Zealand faces a fine of up to NZ$10,000 (£5,164) or up to 14 years in jail.
More than 250 New Zealand police staff are working on the inquiry in the attacks, with staff from the U.S. FBI and Australia’s Federal Police working with local investigators.
Police will be stationed at mosques around the country when open for prayers and nearby when closed, said Ardern.
“Unfortunately, we have seen in countries that know the horrors of terrorism more than us, there is a pattern of increased tension and actions over the weeks that follow that means we do need to ensure that vigilance is maintained.”