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The Latest: UN chief visits mosque and urges global safety

Muslims pray during Friday prayers at Hagley Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 22, 2019. People across New Zealand are observing the Muslim call to prayer as the nation reflects on the moment one week ago when 50 people were slaughtered at two mosques. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The Latest on the mosque attacks in New Zealand (all times local):

7:45 a.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has gone to the first mosque built in New York City to urge people “to reaffirm the sanctity of all places of worship” a week after a gunman killed 50 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand.

The U.N. chief announced that he was asking the head of the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations to develop “an action plan” so all U.N. bodies can help safeguard religious sites.

Guterres addressed a Friday prayer service at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. He told reporters outside that “hate speech is spreading like wildfire.”

The secretary-general warned that “social media is being exploited as a platform for bigotry” and that many political movements are admitting their neo-Nazi affiliation or using the symbols.

He calls it a spreading cancer and says “it is our duty to find the cure.”

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10 p.m.

Malaysia’s prime minister says Muslim countries need to look for new ways to reduce the atmosphere of hatred and anger toward Muslims that prompted the deadly attack on mosques in New Zealand.

Mahathir Mohamad, a prominent Muslim statesman, says he discussed ways to improve the perception of Muslims around the world in talks Friday in Pakistan with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He says Muslims need to learn how to respond to the hatred directed at them, and warned that taking revenge and killing invites the same reaction. He didn’t specify any alternatives, but his comments suggested more tolerance, patience and dialogue.

Mahathir arrived in Pakistan on Thursday for a three-day visit.

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5 p.m.

Thousands of people have gathered for a mass funeral to bury 26 of the victims of the mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The funeral is taking place at a Muslim cemetery where more than a dozen of the 50 killed last week already have been laid to rest.

Family members took turns passing around shovels and wheelbarrows to bury their loved ones.

The burials come hours after thousands gathered in a Christchurch park for Friday prayers, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Friday’s burials also include the youngest victim of the attacks, 3-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim.

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3 p.m.

An Australian national security official says security agencies are increasing their “scrutiny and pressure” on white supremacists after the New Zealand mosque attack.

Home Affairs Department chief executive Mike Pezzullo told a Senate committee on Friday that Australian agencies were working to assist the New Zealand investigation into the Australian man arrested in the killings of 50 worshippers in two Christchurch mosques last week.

Brenton Tarrant espoused white-supremacist views in a manifesto describing his plans for the attack, and racist imagery was seen in his livestreamed footage.

Pezzullo said the Home Affairs Department stood resolutely against white supremacy and he addressed its adherents in saying,” The scrutiny and pressure that you are under will only intensify.'”

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1:30 p.m.

People across New Zealand are observing the Muslim call to prayer as the nation reflects on the moment one week ago when 50 people were slaughtered at two mosques.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and thousands of others congregated in leafy Hagley Park opposite the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch to observe the call to prayer early Friday afternoon.

Thousands more were listening in on the radio or watching on television as the event was broadcast live. The prayer was followed by two minutes of silence.

The observance comes the day after the government announced a ban on “military-style” semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines like the weapons that were used in last Friday’s attacks.

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