By Anees Teladia
A spate of terrorist attacks has shaken the city of Christchurch in New Zealand on Friday, with 49 people now confirmed dead and 48 more hurt. The shootings at two mosques in Christchurch has been described as the worst terror attack on New Zealand soil.
Speaking to VOC, Mohammed Abbas, a Capetonian living in Auckland for the past 13 years, gave a breakdown of the events unfolding.
“Just after Jumuah prayers, we were alerted to an event unfolding in Christchurch. A gunman walked into Masjid Al Noor and started firing at people randomly. The gunman was seen to be videoing the entire massacre,” said Abbas.
“The shooting also happened at Linwood Masjid in Christchurch, and there are reports of further shooters at Christchurch hospital. We also learned there was an active event unfolding at Papanui High School which is also in Christchurch.”
Abbas could not comment for certain on what the motive was.
“At this stage, there is speculation at best on what the motive was. There is a manifesto that was posted by the gunman – one of the main gunmen. There is speculation that he is Australian,” said Abbas.
Some in New Zealand seem to be unsympathetic with the occurrence and some have mixed feelings. Others, according to Abbas, do refer to it as an act of “terror” or as a “hate crime”.
“People are generally distraught and in shock in New Zealand. In my thirteen years of being here, and my parents have been here for well over 15 years now, we’ve never experienced any form of racial discrimination or religious discrimination.”
“We have a close family member that lives in Christchurch. He was at the Linwood Masjid when this occurred. He is clearly distraught.”
“He and his wife were in the Masjid – they managed to escape in the nick of time,” said Abbas.
Abbas, however, urged fellow Muslims to exercise sabr and be mindful that it is a very small minority who carry out such terror attacks.
“The non-Muslim community has been really supportive. When situations like this unfold, our natural reaction is that of defence. There was an offer of a human chain, made of non-Muslims, to protect the Muslims during their remaining prayers for the day to ensure that Muslims could pray safely in the masjid.”
“There is good in humanity – let’s not lose sight of that.”
Another South African, Fareed Dayman, who has been living in New Zealand for the past 12 years said the Muslim community were “shaken up”.
“New Zealand is a peaceful country. We never expected anything as horrible and terrible here.”
“It is a Western government, but they are so supportive of Muslims. We have freedom of religion. That’s why this is the worst Islamophobia we can find,” said Dayman.
“Ask all our family, friends and community to make duah for all of us and all over the world Insha Allah.”