By Anees Teladia
There are hopes that the bodies of all the victims of the Christchurch terror attacks in New Zealand will be returned to the grief-stricken families by Thursday, for them to be buried by Islamic rites this week. While authorities have not publicly named the deceased killed in Friday’s cold-blooded mass shooting, they have said that accurate identification and evidence gathering is vital at this stage of the investigation and are trying to swiftly release the bodies to loved ones.
It’s believed that a mass janaaza prayers will be performed for the slain victims, who had been killed during jumuah at the Al Noor and Linwood masjid on Friday. Twenty people specialised in preparing bodies for Muslim burial will be brought in from other cities in New Zealand to assist in funeral preparations and prayers for the murdered victims.
The death toll in Friday’s shooting spree has risen to 50 and 31 injured victims are still at Christchurch Hospital, where officials said nine were in critical condition. A 28-year-old Australian man, identified as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, has been charged with one count of murder, with many more expected.
In the aftermath of the reprehensible terror attacks, VOC Breakfast Beat spoke to a South African alim currently in New Zealand, Moulana Shaakir Ismail.
“24 hours after the incident, we were with the police commissioner and meeting with the families. That initial meeting was very emotional. Obviously, people were upset, anxious and tempers were flaring,” said Moulana Ismail.
“We had a live call from the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself, reassuring words of support, love, compassion and kindness. President Erdoğan assured the Muslim world that Turkey would do everything in its capacity to investigate this further, because it’s not just an attack on Muslims in New Zealand but an attack on Muslims globally,” said Moulana Ismail.
Moulana Ismail also confirmed that the New Zealand police were treating the case appropriately.
“The police have given us 100% cooperation and commitment. The Prime Minister has given us assurances [around justice],” said Moulana Ismail.
“They don’t want to leave a single stone unturned (in terms of the investigation) to ensure there is no opportunity for counter-evidence.”
It would seem that although the atmosphere in New Zealand is one of mourning for the Muslim community, Moulana Ismail suggests that the attacker’s acts have backfired.
“This man chose to divide us as people and Muslims around the world, but his act backfired in terms of the dawah of Islam, unity and solidarity. Muslims are coming together – people are coming together,” said Moulana Ismail.
“One person from the Jewish community in Auckland, a Rabbi, came to show some support.”
Moulana Ismail said plans are in effect to arrange the janaaza salah, however, many details are unclear at this stage.
“Late Saturday night, we received the names of the deceased and out of the 50, 45 were identified.”
“We have given the options to the families, but we are planning to have a mass janaaza Inshaa Allah.”
In the heat of the attacks, a man now regarded as a hero to many people, has emerged.
“There was an Afghani brother from the Linwood masjid who managed to somehow counter-attack the assailant. That’s one of the reasons why the casualties at the Linwood Masjid weren’t as many as at Masjid Al Noor.” VOC