Illustration of New Zealand's silver fern redrawn as Muslims praying goes viral

An Australian artist redrew the nation's traditional silver fern emblem to show Muslim worshippers in different stages of prayer in response to the terror attack that targeted two mosques in Christchurch last week that left at least 50 people dead. 

Artist Pat Campbell, who creates cartoons for Australia's Canberra Times newspaper, told CNN in an interview this week that he drew the illustration in memory of those killed in the mosque shootings.

"Initially I drew 49 figures. When the number was revised to 50, I added another silhouette," Campbell told the news agency on Wednesday.


The illustration has gone viral in recent days, with many online praising the drawing.

Campbell said he came up with the idea to draw the fern a day after the mass shootings. 

"I thought of the fern, an important symbol of New Zealand, its form naturally lending itself to a representation of people,” he said. “From there it was a short step to depicting the victims as they prayed.” 

"Many people have told me how the image has touched them, or given them solace, or reassurance that the wider community cares," he continued. "That's been a sad but wonderful reward." 

Campbell said he didn’t expect the drawing to go viral, however.

"The response has been humbling,” he said. “As you can imagine, it is a bittersweet experience.”