Tardiness saves Christchurch mother and son from terrorist’s wrath

Hamza Abdi in an interview with Arab News. (AN photo by Daniel Nielsen)
Updated 17 March 2019
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Tardiness saves Christchurch mother and son from terrorist’s wrath

  • Siman Omar was speaking with a friend at Al Noor Mosque's gate when she saw the gunman enter
  • Hamza Abdi was delayed from entering the mosque by minutes as he had to park his car

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Being late for Friday prayers has saved the lives of two Christchurch residents.

Siman Omar, 52, and her son Hamza Abdi, 20, were running late for Friday prayers at Al Noor mosque. 

Abdi dropped his mother at the gate of the mosque and drove off to find somewhere to park the car.

Omar stopped to speak with a friend at the gate when she saw a short man wearing a helmet and carrying a big gun, striding through the gate. 

“He started shooting at the men taking their shoes off at the door. He just went ‘bam bam bam’.”

Omar ran and hid behind a car. She was visible ducking for cover in the background of alleged shooter Brenton Tarrant’s livestream of the event.

Omar said she never expected something like this could happen in Christchurch. She had been going to Friday prayers at the mosque since moving to New Zealand from Somalia 22 years ago

Her son Hamza Abdi said he parked his car on a side street near the mosque after dropping off his mum. 

“I was walking back and heard noises. I didn’t realize they were gun shots.”

A friend, “one of the Somali brothers,” says Abdi, told him to jump in his car. 

Still, Abdi, didn’t know what was going on until he saw a group of women run across Deans Ave, the road the mosque is located on.

His recall of events is hazy but he remembered getting out of the car and suddenly the car behind him was being shot at. 

The driver “just floored it” and Abdi ran. As he looked back, he could see the shooter putting his gun back in the car.

Abdi scampered over a fence and hid in a portable toilet. From there, he started calling people from his phone. 

“They didn’t believe me that this was happening.”

He went back to the mosque in search of his mother. The horror of what he encountered brings Abdi to tears.

“One man was holding a child in his arms. The kid had been shot. I just broke down.” 

Abdi was eventually reunited with his mother. They are now recovering at home in Christchurch, a place neither of them thought would ever experience something like this.


UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

Updated 3 min 49 sec ago
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UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum.

“I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. "The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum."

“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal - you need a deal and therefore Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen,” May said.

May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure an orderly British departure from the bloc.

The deal that she struck with the EU has been rejected by UK lawmakers three times already.

(With agencies)