What we know so far about the New Zealand mosque massacre victims

by - 5 min read

What we know so far about the New Zealand mosque massacre victims

by - 5 min read

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Attacks on two New Zealand mosques took the lives of dozens of worshippers March 15, 2019, and left dozens more wounded when a man believed to be a white supremacist opened fire and livestreamed the shootings.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the massacre during Friday prayers is “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

Here are the stories of the dozens of lives lost and wounded.

The dead

Naeem Rashid, 50, and Talha Rashid, 21

Relatives in Abbottabad, Pakistan, look at pictures on a cellphone of Pakistani citizen Rashid Naeem, and his son Talha Naeem, who were killed in the Christchurch mosque shooting. Pakistan’s foreign minister says nine Pakistanis were missing after the mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand. (Aqeel Ahmed/Associated Press)

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 and was from Abbottabad, Pakistan. His son was 11 when his family moved to New Zealand. He had a new job and planned to get married.

Daoud Nabi, 71

Brothers Omar Nabi, right, and Yama Nabi hold a photo of their father Daoud Nabi outside the court building in Christchurch on Saturday. (Tessa Burrows/AFP/Getty Images)

Nabi moved his family to New Zealand in 1979 from Afghanistan 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 settle in to a new country.

“He used to make them feel at home,” Omar said.

Syed Areeb Ahmed, 27

Ahmed had recently moved from his house 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 Ahmen 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. 

“He had done chartered accountancy from Pakistan. He was the only son to his parents. He had only one younger sister … He had only started his career, but the enemies took his life.”

Family members, relatives, and friends have gathered at Ahmed’s house in Karachi to express their condolences. His body is expected to arrive there in coming days.

A relative shows the picture of Syed Areeb Ahmed, a Pakistani citizen who was killed in the Christchurch mosque shootings, on his cellphone outside his home in Karachi on Saturday. (Fareed Khan/Associated Press)

Junaid Mortara, 35

Javed Dadabhai is mourning for his gentle cousin, 35-year-old Junaid Mortara, believed to have died in the first mosque attack.

His cousin was the breadwinner of the family, supporting his mother, his wife and their three children, ages one to five. Mortara 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.

Husna Ahmed, 45

Farid Ahmed lost his 45-year-old wife, Husna Ahmed, in the Al-Noor mosque attack. They had separated to go to the bathroom when it happened. 

The gunman live streamed 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.”

Husne Ara Parvin, 41

Parvin died being struck by bullets while trying to shield her wheelchair-bound husband, Farid Uddin Ahmed, her nephew Mahfuz Chowdhury told The Daily Star, a newspaper in Bangladesh.

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 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. 

The wounded

Mohammed Elyan

Mohammed Elyan, a Jordanian in his 60s who co-founded one of the mosques in 1993, was among those wounded, as was his son, Atta, who is in his 30s. That’s according to Muath Elyan, Mohammed’s brother, who said he spoke to Mohammed’s wife after the shooting.

Muath Elyan 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 Associated Press. “I’m sure this bloody crime doesn’t represent the New Zealanders.”

Waseem and Elin Daraghmeh 

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 underwent surgery to remove the bullet and his daughter said he’s recovering.

This story originally appeared on CBC

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