New Zealand’s Christchurch worshiper, who was among the first to be targeted by the criminal gunman Friday, shared his last peaceful and courageous words while confronting his attackers.
The man was overheard on a live stream video of the mass shooting saying, “Hello brother,” as the gunman approached the entrance of the New Zealand mosque.
At least 49 people, including children, were killed in Friday’s attacks targeting the Al Noor and Linwood mosques.
Police said on Saturday morning that 42 people were being treated for wounds following the “terrorist” attack. Two of them, including a four-year-old child, were in critical condition.
The 28-year-old Australian-born shooter, Brenton Tarrant, who appeared in a New Zealand court Saturday was charged with murder.
“We Still Love This Country”
Also on Saturday, the imam who was leading prayers at a Christchurch mosque when the massacre took place, said that the Muslim community’s love for New Zealand would not be shaken.
“We still love this country,” said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, imam of Linwood Mosque, vowing that extremists would “never ever touch our confidence”.
Halim gave a harrowing account of the moment during Friday prayers when gunshots rang out in the mosque, replacing peaceful reflection with screaming, bloodshed and death.
“Everyone laid down on the floor, and some women started crying, some people died immediately,” he said.
But, he said, New Zealand Muslims still felt at home in the south Pacific nation.
“My children live here” he said, adding, “we are happy”.
He said the majority of New Zealanders “are very keen to support all of us, to give us full solidarity”, describing how strangers exchanged hugs with him on Saturday.
“They start to… give me big hug, and give me more solidarity. This is something very important.”