Husband of slain woman forgives New Zealand mosque gunman

Farid Ahmed, above, said his wife was busy saving people during the attack. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Husband of slain woman forgives New Zealand mosque gunman

  • The husband says forgiveness is the best thing, among others
  • His wife was helping women and children exit from their designated hall

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Farid Ahmad loved his wife — and he loves and forgives the terrorist who killed her.

“The best thing is forgiveness, generosity, loving and caring, positivity,” said Farid, 59, confined to a wheelchair since a car accident in 1998.

His wife Husna, 44, was one of 50 people killed in Friday’s terrorist attack at Al-Noor mosque and Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand. Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian white supremacist, has been charged with murder.

Ahmad says that if he could speak to Tarrant: “I would tell him that inside him he has great potential to be a generous person, to be a kind person, to be a person who would save people rather than destroy them.

“I want him to look for that positive attitude, and I hope and I pray for him, that he will be a great civilian one day. I don’t have any grudge.”

Ahmad and his wife moved to New Zealand from Bangladesh in 1990, and they have one daughter.

When the gunman opened fire at Al-Noor mosque, Husna helped people escape from the women’s and children’s hall. “She was screaming ‘Come this way, hurry up,’ and she took many children and ladies toward a safe garden,” Ahmad said.

“Then she was coming back to check on me, because I was in a wheelchair, and as she was approaching the gate she was shot. She was busy saving lives, forgetting about herself.”

As massive piles of flowers were laid near the mosques on Sunday and crowds of people of all faiths gathered to pay respects, more stories emerged of courage and grief.

Friends mourned Atta Elayyan, 33, originally from Kuwait, the goalkeeper for New Zealand’s futsal team. Ghassan Alaraji, 35, from Iraq, said he had seen footage of Atta trying to stop the gunman.

“That was my friend Atta,” he said. “He was trying to help and protect others from being shot. He was very, very brave.”

New Zealand Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell said: “My heart goes out to the futsal community. They are a very tight-knit group and Atta’s death will be devastating for all involved in the game. We feel their pain and their grief.”

Abdul Aziz, 48, from Afghanistan, confronted the gunman at the Linwood center and picked up a shotgun that he had dropped. “I chased him,” Aziz said. “He sat in his car and with the shotgun in my hands, I threw it through his window like an arrow. He just swore at me and took off.”


World population expected to rise to 9.7 billion in 2050: UN

In this Jan. 31, 2014 file photo released by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), shows residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, lining up to receive food supplies, in Damascus, Syria. (AP)
Updated 55 min 38 sec ago
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World population expected to rise to 9.7 billion in 2050: UN

  • The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 births in 2019 and is projected to decline further to 2.2 births by 2050

UNITED NATIONS: The world’s population is getting older and growing at a slower pace but is still expected to increase from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, the United Nations said Monday.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division said in a new report that world population could reach its peak of nearly 11 billion around the end of the century.
But Population Division Director John Wilmoth cautioned that because 2100 is many decades away this outcome “is not certain, and in the end the peak could come earlier or later, at a lower or higher level of total population.”
The new population projections indicate that nine countries will be responsible for more than half the projected population growth between now and 2050. In descending order of the expected increase, they are: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States.
In sub-Saharan Africa, population is projected to nearly double by 2050, the report said.
Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Lu Zhenmin said in a statement: “Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty,” promote gender equality and improve health care and education.
The report confirmed that the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels.
The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 births in 2019 and is projected to decline further to 2.2 births by 2050.
A fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman is need to ensure population replacement and avoid declines, according to the report.
In 2019, the fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa was the highest at 4.6 births per woman, with Pacific islands, northern Africa, and western, central and southern Asia above the replacement level, said the report.
But since 2010, it said 27 countries or areas have lost one percent or more of their population.
“Between 2019 and 2050 populations are projected to decrease by one percent or more in 55 countries or areas, of which 26 may see a reduction of at least 10 percent,” the UN said. “In China, for example, the population is projected to decrease by 31.4 million, or around 2.2 percent, between 2019 and 2050.”
Wilmoth, the head of the Population Division, told a news conference launching the report that the population growth rate is slowing down as the fertility level gradually decreases. That decrease usually follows a reduction in the mortality level that initially instigated growth, he said.
Wilmoth stressed that multiple factors lead to lower fertility including increasing education and employment, especially for women, and more jobs in urban than rural areas, which motivate people away from costly large families to smaller families.
But to achieve this, he said, people also need access to modern methods of contraception.
According to the “World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights” report, migration is also a major component of population growth or loss in some countries.
Between 2010 and 2020, it said 14 countries or areas will see a net inflow of more than one million migrants while 10 countries will experience a similar loss.
For example, some of the largest outflows of people — including from Bangladesh, Mepal and the Philippines — are driven by the demand for migrant workers, the report said. But some migrants are driven from their home countries by violence, insecurity and conflict, including from Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela.
The UN said countries experiencing a net inflow of migrants over the decade include Belarus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.