CHRISTCHURCH : After a lone gunman killed 51 mosque worshippers in March, New Zealand's outpouring of collective grief and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's heartfelt support for the Muslim community won praise around the world.

But, Months after the attack in two Christchurch mosques, criticism is mounting over the aftermath including the prolonged legal process and the handling of a powerful government inquiry.

New Zealand is no stranger to natural disasters, but the unprecedented scale of violence targeting a minority has strained institutions designed to provide answers and deliver justice.

New Zealand is also less experienced in dealing with cultural needs of Muslims, who make up only 1% of the population.

That has led to cultural blind spots, including scheduling hearings during important religious periods and failing to engage with Muslims in an appropriate way, members of the Muslim community, experts and advocates say.

''What's being done to mange the expectations of victims and how do they actually feel included and ensure they are not re-traumatized through it and re-victimised through that process?'' said Pakeeza Rasheed, a lawyer and chairperson of New Zealand Muslim women's organization, the Khadija Leadership Network.

From the beginning, delays and confusion confirming the identities of the victims and releasing bodies upset the relatives who were unable to bury their loved ones as soon as possible, as is customary in Islam.

Soon after the attack, many Muslims questioned whether security services took the risk of white supremacist violence seriously enough, and whether authorities were overly focused on the danger of Islamic extremism.

Ardern in May announced a wide-ranging inquiry, known as a Royal Commission, seeking answers to such questions. [Reuters]


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