An attack on a New Zealand mosque took the lives of 50 worshippers Friday and left dozens more wounded when a white supremacist opened fire and livestreamed the shootings.
Here are the stories of some of those killed and wounded.
Husne Ara Parvin, 42
Parvin died being struck by bullets while trying to shield her husband Farid Uddin Ahmed, who uses a wheelchair, her nephew Mahfuz Chowdhury told The Daily Star, a Bangladesh newspaper.
Chowdhury said Uddin had been ill for years and Parvin took him to the mosque every other Friday. She had taken him to the mosque for men while she went to the one for women. Mahfuz said relatives in New Zealand told him that when the shootings began, Parvin rushed to her husband’s mosque to protect him. He survived.
The Bangladeshi couple had moved to New Zealand sometime after 1994, Chowdhury said.
Naeem Rashid, 50, and Talha Rashid, 21
As the shootings unfolded, Naeem Rashid is seen on video trying to tackle the gunman, according to Rashid’s brother, Khurshid Alam.
“He was a brave person, and I’ve heard from a few people there, there were few witnesses, they’ve said he saved a few lives there by trying to stop that guy,” Alam told the BBC.
Rashid’s son, Talha Rashid, is also among the dead. Pakistan’s Ministry of Public Affairs confirmed their deaths in a tweet.
The elder Rashid was a teacher in Christchurch who was originally from Abbottabad, Pakistan. He had migrated to New Zealand in 2009.
Talha was 11 when his family moved to New Zealand. He had a new job and planned to get married.
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Rashid’s brother, Dr. Mohammad Khursheed, who lives in Abbottabad, received an emotional call from his sister-in-law telling him of his brother’s death.
Khursheed said his brother had already bought a plane ticket to Pakistan for a May family reunion.
“He was very brave. He snatched the gun, and I think he saved many lives,” Khursheed said.
Rashid’s 75-year-old mother, Bedar Bibi, was devastated and wanted to fly to New Zealand for a last look at her son and grandson.
“I want the New Zealand government should take me there so I can have one last look of my beloved son and my grandson Talha,” she said.
Haji Daoud Nabi, 71
Haji Daoud Nabi moved his family to New Zealand in 1979 to escape the Soviet-Afghan War. Days before the shootings, his son, Omar, recalled his father speaking about the importance of unity.
“My father said how important it is to spread love and unity among each other and protect every member of the society we live in,” Omar told Al Jazeera.
Omar told the news network his father ran an Afghan association and helped refugees settling into a new country.
“He used to make them feel at home,” Omar said.
Syed Areeb Ahmed
Ahmed had recently moved from his home in Karachi, Pakistan, for a job in New Zealand to help support his family back home. On Saturday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry informed his family that Ahmed was among those killed during the mosque attack.
One of his uncles, Muhammad Muzaffar Khan, described him as deeply religious, praying five times a day. But education was always his first priority, Khan said.
“Education had always remained his first priority,” Khan said. “He had gone to New Zealand recently, where he got his job. He had only started his career, but the enemies took his life.”
“He had done charted accountancy from Pakistan. He was the only son to his parents. He had only one younger sister.”
Family members, relatives and friends have gathered at Ahmed’s house to express their condolences. His body is expected to arrive there in the coming days.
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Junaid Mortara, 35
Javed Dadabhai is mourning his cousin, 35-year-old Junaid Mortara, who is believed to have died in the first mosque attack.
Mortara was the breadwinner of the family, supporting his mother, his wife and their three children, aged between one and five. He had inherited his father’s convenience store, which was covered in flowers on Saturday.
Mortara was an avid cricket fan and would always send a sparring text with relatives over cricket matches when Canterbury faced Auckland.
Lilik Abdul Hamid
Lilik Abdul Hamid, a longtime aircraft maintenance engineer at Air New Zealand, was attending the Al Noor mosque when he was killed, his employer said in a statement.
“Lilik has been a valued part of our engineering team in Christchurch for 16 years, but he first got to know the team even earlier when he worked with our aircraft engineers in a previous role overseas,” Air New Zealand chief executive officer Christopher Luxon said.
“The friendships he made at that time led him to apply for a role in Air New Zealand and make the move to Christchurch. His loss will be deeply felt by the team.”
Hamid was married and had two children, Luxon said.
“Lilik, his wife Nina and their children, Zhania and Gerin, are well known and loved by our close-knit team of engineers and their families, who are now doing all they can to support the family alongside our leadership team and the airline’s special assistance team,” he said.
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Husna Ahmed, 45
Farid Ahmed refuses to turn his back on his adopted home, despite losing his 45-year-old wife, Husna Ahmed, in the Al Noor mosque attack. They had split up to go to the bathroom when it happened.
The gunman livestreamed the massacre on the internet, and Ahmed later saw a video of his wife being shot. A police officer confirmed she died.
Despite the horror, Ahmed, originally from Bangladesh, still considers New Zealand a great country.
“I believe that some people, purposely, they are trying to break down the harmony we have in New Zealand with the diversity,” he said. “But they are not going to win. They are not going to win. We will be harmonious.”
Mohammad Imran Khan
A handwritten cardboard sign outside Mohammad Imran Khan’s restaurant, the Indian Grill, in Christchurch, on Sunday said simply: “CLOSED.” A handful of pink flowers had been laid nearby.
The owner of the convenience store next door, JB’s Discounter, Jaiman Patel, 31, said he helped the staff with the keys after the terrorist attack that claimed Khan’s life.
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“He’s a really good guy. I tried to help him out with the setup and everything,” Patel said. “We also put the key out for them when the terrorists come and sorted it out for him.”
Khan had a son who was 10 or 11, Patel said.
The two were business neighbours who helped each other out when needed, he said.
“We are helping each other. It’s so sad.”
Farhaj Ahsan, 30
Farhaj Ahsan, a software engineer, moved to New Zealand six years ago from the city of Hyderabad in India, where his parents still live, according to the Mumbai Mirror.
“We received the disturbing news,” Ahsan’s father, Mohammed Sayeeduddin, told the newspaper Saturday. Friends and family had been trying to reach Ahsan since the attack.
Ahsan was married and had a three-year-old daughter and infant son.
Abdullahi Dirie, 4
Four of Adan Ibrahin Dirie’s five children managed to escape Friday’s attacks, but the youngest, Abdullahi, was killed, his uncle, Abdulrahman Hashi, 60, a preacher at Dar Al Hijrah Mosque in Minneapolis, told the New Zealand Herald.
Dirie also suffered gunshot wounds and was hospitalized. The family fled Somalia in the mid-1990s as refugees and resettled in New Zealand.
“You cannot imagine how I feel,” Hashi said.
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He added: “He was the youngest in the family. This is a problem of extremism. Some people think the Muslims in their country are part of that, but these are innocent people.”
Ali Elmadani and his wife immigrated from the United Arab Emirates in 1998. The retired Christchurch engineer always told his children to be strong and patient so that’s what they are trying to do after the tragedy, his daughter, Maha Elmadani, told Stuff.
“He considered New Zealand home and never thought something like this would happen here,” she said.
She said her mother “is staying as strong as possible. My younger brother isn’t doing too well with the news.”
Mucaad Ibrahim, 3
Mucaad Ibrahim was lost in the melee when the firing started at the Al Noor mosque as his older brother Abdi fled for his life and his father pretended to be dead after being shot.
The New Zealand Herald reported that the family searched in vain for the toddler at Christchurch hospital and later posted a photograph of Mucaad, smiling, with the caption: “Verily we belong to God and to Him we shall return. Will miss you dearly brother.”
Mucaad was a joyful, energetic child who always seemed to be laughing, Abdi said. He was bright, with an affinity for technology, and his toy of choice was an iPad.
The toddler impressed Ahmed Osman, a close family friend, with his intelligence. Mucaad seemed to particularly enjoy talking to older people, he said.
Nearly every Friday at 6 p.m., Mucaad would go to the park not far from the mosque where his life would ultimately end. There, he would watch Abdi play soccer with Osman and their friends. The toddler would stand on the sidelines cheering them on and kicking a ball of his own along the grass, Osman recalled with a smile.
Mucaad had planned to go to the park as usual on Friday evening. He would never get the chance.
Abdi described his little brother as “energetic, playful and liked to smile and laugh a lot.”
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Sayyad Milne, 14
Sayyad Milne is described as a good-natured, kind teenager. The high school student was at the Al Noor mosque for Friday prayers when the attack started, his half-sister, Brydie Henry, told Stuff.
Milne was last seen “lying on the floor of the bloody mosque, bleeding from his lower body,” she said her father told her.
Milne’s mother, Noraini, was also in the mosque and managed to escape, Henry said. The teenager has two other siblings, 15-year-old twins Shuayb and Cahaya.
“They’re all at home just waiting. They’re just waiting and they don’t know what to do,” Henry told the news site.
Hussein al-Umari, 30s
His mother wrote on social media that Hussein al-Umari, an Iraqi born in Abu Dhabi, was killed.
His family and friends had been seeking information on al-Umari, who was in his mid-30s, after he failed to return home after going to Friday prayers at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.
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His mother, an Iraqi calligraphy artist named Janna Ezzat, wrote on Facebook that her son had become a martyr.
Ezzat wrote: “Our son was full of life and always put the needs of others in front of his own.”
Atta Elayyan, 30s
Atta Elayyan, who was in his 30s, died of his wounds from the shooting, Muath Ealyyan, his uncle, told the Associated Press.
His father, Mohammed Elayyan, was among those wounded, said Muath, Mohammed’s brother, who said he spoke to Mohammed’s wife after the shooting.
Muath said his brother helped establish the mosque a year after arriving in New Zealand, where he teaches engineering at a university and runs a consultancy. He said his brother last visited Jordan two years ago.
“He used to tell us life was good in New Zealand and its people are good and welcoming. He enjoyed freedom there and never complained about anything,” Muath told the AP. “I’m sure this bloody crime doesn’t represent the New Zealanders.”
Maheboob (Mahebubbhai) Khokhar, 65
Mahebubbhai Khokhar, 65, a retired area manager at a state-owned power utility in Gujarat, India, was on his maiden visit to New Zealand with his wife to see their son, Imran, who had left his homeland in 2010, said Altaf Khokhar, one of the man’s sons who resides in Gujarat.
Khokhar was one of the five people of Indian origin confirmed dead by the Indian High Commission in New Zealand.
However, the local police had not confirmed Khokhar’s death to the family, Altaf said.
Imran and his mother were camping outside the hospital trying desperately to retrieve Khokhar’s body, but there was no progress, they said.
“We saw his name on television, but the police there are not telling us anything,” Altaf said.
Khokhar had been scheduled to fly back to India on Sunday with his wife.
Ansi Alibava, 25
Indian news reports said Ansi Alibava, 25, had moved to New Zealand last year after marrying Abdul Nazar.
The Indian Express newspaper said she was studying agriculture technology at Lincoln University and her husband worked at a supermarket in Christchurch. They got married in 2017.
The Manorama Online news site said her mother, Rasia, had prayed for the safety of the two when the news broke of the attacks.
Alibava used to call her family back in India every day, but they were worried when there was no call after the shootings. They later found out from Alibava’s husband what had happened.
The report said she was hoping to find a job in New Zealand to support her family back home.
Other victims who have been identified, but for whom there is little biographical information available, include:
- Ramiz Vora
- Asif Vora
- Ozair Kadir
- Zeeshan Raza, his father, Ghulam Hussain, and his mother, Karam Bibi
- Sohail Shahid
- Syed Jahandad Ali, 34
- Syed Areeb Ahmed
- Mahboob Haroon, 40
Mohammed Elayyan, a Jordanian in his 60s who co-founded one of the mosques in Christchurch in 1993, was among those wounded. His son, Atta, who was in his 30s, was killed.
Elayyan’s brother, Muath, said he helped establish the mosque a year after arriving in New Zealand, where he teaches engineering at a university and runs a consultancy. He said his brother last visited Jordan two years ago.
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A Jordanian man says his four-year-old niece is fighting for her life after being wounded. Sabri Daraghmeh said by phone from Jordan on Saturday that the girl, Elin, remains “in the danger phase” and that her father, Waseem — Sabri’s brother — is in stable condition.
Daraghmeh says the 33-year-old Waseem moved to New Zealand five years ago and that he described it as the “safest place one could ever live in.”
The Daraghmehs are of Palestinian origin but have Jordanian citizenship, like several others listed as Jordanian nationals among those killed and wounded in the mosque attacks.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Saturday that at least four Palestinians were among those killed but acknowledged they could have been counted by Jordan or other countries.
Adeeb Sami, 52
As the rampage inside the mosque began, Sami was shot in the back as he dove to protect his two sons, Abdullah, 29, and Ali, 23, the Gulf News reported.
“My dad is a real hero. He got shot in the back near his spine in an attempt to shield my brothers, but he didn’t let anything happen to them,” Adeeb’s daughter, Heba, 30, told the Gulf News.
Sami, described by the Gulf News as a Dubai-based New Zealander of Iraqi origin, underwent surgery to remove the bullet and his daughter said he’s recovering.
Muhammad Amin Nasir, 67
Nasir and his son were just 200 metres from the Al Noor Mosque on Friday when everything went wrong. They had no idea that a white supremacist had just slaughtered at least 41 people inside the mosque. A car that had been driving by suddenly stopped, and a man leaned out the window pointing a gun at them.
They ran as the bullets began to fly. But at 67, Nasir could not keep up with his 35-year-old son. He fell behind by two or three fateful steps.
The gunman drove away. Blood poured from Nasir’s body.
Nasir, who lived in Pakistan, had been regularly visiting his son in New Zealand.
He was on the third week of his visit when he was shot. He remains in an induced coma with critical injuries, though his condition has stabilized.
Shihadeh Nasasrah, 63
Shihadeh Nasasrah, 63, who was wounded in the New Zealand mosque shooting, said he spent terrifying minutes lying underneath two dying men as the gunman kept firing.
The assailant “would go out and bring more ammunition and resume shooting,” said Nasasrah, speaking by phone from a Christchurch hospital where he was recovering from two shots to the leg.
“Every time he stopped, I thought he was gone. But he returned over and over again. I was afraid to leave because I didn’t know the safest way out. I died several times, not one time.”
Nasasrah had attended Friday prayers at the Al Noor Mosque with his friend, Abdel Fattah Qasim, 60, who was killed in the shooting. Both were originally from the West Bank, Nasasrah from the town of Beit Furik and Qasim from the town of Arabeh.
Nasasrah said about 200 to 300 worshippers were in the mosque for Friday prayers, and he and his friend were sitting in the front, near the imam, or prayer leader. The imam was delivering the sermon when the gunman burst into the mosque, he said.
“Panic spread all over the place,” Nasasrah said. “Some started saying Allahu akbar (God is great). We scrambled to leave toward a second door that leads to a hall and then to the street, but the bullets brought us down.”
“Two people came on top of me, and he (the gunman) approached us and opened fire. Both were killed, and I felt them dying,” Nasasrah said. “I felt their blood. I myself was shot and I thought, ‘I’m dying.'”
He said he uttered the words that devout Muslims speak before their death: “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger.”
Nasasrah, a car dealer, said most of the worshippers were from Asia, including Indonesia, India, Singapore and Malaysia, and that Arabs made up a smaller part of the congregation.
The attack left him and other Muslims in the area worried and puzzled.
“I never heard a racist word in this country,” he said. “I don’t know what happened and why. I will not leave this country. Our lives are well established here, our homes, work, family is here, and we will not leave.”
As a young man, Nasasrah studied English in the Syrian capital of Damascus and then worked as a translator at the New Zealand embassy in Saudi Arabia for 14 years. The father of three moved to New Zealand in 1990. His three children graduated from universities in New Zealand and have established their lives in the country.