One of the imams at the Linwood Masjid in Christchurch in New Zealand has described the horrific moments during Friday’s terror attack during Jumuah prayers. At least 49 people have been killed and 20 seriously injured after mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch – what many believe was a carefully orchestrated attack on the Muslim community by a far-right extremist. One of the suspects apparently filmed a live video of the attack, which graphically depicts him mowing down the musallees inside the mosque. The attack is said to be the worst in New Zealand’s history and has been unequivocally condemned across the globe.
Speaking to VOC News on Friday, Imam Abdul Lateef said the musallees had just completed the khutbah and had been performing the first rakah of the salah when gunshots run out. While the musallees continued prayer, he broke away from salah.
“I knew this was serious, so I left the salah to peak through the window. I saw a guy fully dressed in army clothes, like someone going to war…”
“I heard him using the F-Word as he shot one brother and a sister. I then shouted to everyone to ‘go down’ but everyone was engrossed in the salah,” he described.
The alim said he had a quick look at the suspect but could not see his face as he wore a helmet.
“He looked Caucasian. He had a bullet-proof vest and was carrying a big machine gun. It was terrible…”
Maulana says most of the mussalees were in complete shock. They cowered and screamed for help as the shoot-out erupted. He said the suspect then moved to the side of the masjid and shot one musallee who was standing next to the window in the head.
“One of the brothers who was shot was from Mauritius and another Afghani brother who followed him [the suspect] managed to overpower him and got the gun. Then he [the suspect] ran away…”
At this stage, the police arrived on the scene and six bloodied bodies were seen strewn inside the masjid.
Asked what could have been the motivation behind the attack, the alim said Muslims remained clueless. He believes New Zealanders are a tolerant and inclusive society, although there have been many individual experiences of bigotry, xenophobia and Islamophobia.
“There have been incidents where teenagers, usually when they are drunk, would drive past mosques and shout at Muslims ‘go back to your country’. There was also an incident where they wrote on the signboard of the masjid, but apart from that, there’s never been any attack.”
LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE: