The husband of a former Nelson woman killed in the Christchurch terror attacks says he forgives the man allegedly responsible for the shootings.
Farid Ahmed and his wife Husna, were in separate rooms inside the Al Noor Mosque when the gunman opened fire last Friday.
Husna ran classes for children at the mosque, while her husband gave sermons.
Farid Ahmed came to New Zealand in 1988 and Husna in 1994. They married the day she arrived in Auckland and moved to Nelson that week, living here until Farid was hit by a drink driver about 15 years ago.
As a gunman stormed into the mosque firing indiscriminately at worshippers, Husna had one priority – getting the women and children to safety.
“Hold your children, come this way,” she screamed as she led the group out a side door and through a gate away from the storm of bullets and carnage behind them.
Once sure they were out of harm’s way, Husna returned inside to help her wheelchair-bound husband.
Husna knew he had no way of escaping the shooter and was desperate to reach him, to help him get away.
As she made her way back into the mosque, she was shot and killed.
Farid said he did not, and could not, hate the gunman.
In fact, extraordinarily, he has forgiven the alleged mass murderer.
“There is no need for anger – anger and fighting doesn’t fix anything, but through love and care we can warm hearts.
“I was asked ‘how do you feel about the person who killed your wife?’ and I said ‘I love that person because he is a human, a brother of mine,” he said.
“I do not support what he did – he got it wrong. But maybe he was hurt, maybe something happened to him in his life … but the bottom line is, he is a brother of mine.
“I have forgiven him and I am sure if my wife was alive she would have done the same thing. I hold no grudge.”
Farid hoped the gunman – and others who hold the same beliefs – would reflect on what had happened and change his life.
“Every human has two sides – evil and humanitarian; bring out your humanitarian… instead of killing and hate … I wish I could say that.
“If I can change one person from cruelty to generosity, I’ll be honoured.”
Nelson man Rashad Zafarulla’s was a friend of Husna and was also minutes away from losing a family member.
His brother-in-law was also scheduled to attend Friday prayers at the Linwood Mosque but arrived after the carnage had unfolded.
“The whole Muslim community in New Zealand is separated by one or two degrees, so it has just been devastating,” he says.
Rashad’s brother-in-law was the first to contact him about the shooting.
‘We knew he was there, and he knew we’d be worried.”
He says his wife’s family were very close with Husna.
Rashad says there is a lot of mourning and processing to be done within the Muslim community.
On Sunday, hundreds of Nelsonians gathered at the Church Steps to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community.
A service for the victims of the shooting will be held at the Nelson masjid, behind Old St John’s on Hardy St, this Friday March 22 from 12.30pm. It would begin with a holding hands ceremony, followed by Friday prayer at 1.30pm and a prayer for the victims at 2pm.
- NZHerald and Jonty Dine