‘Don’t cry’: Celebration trumps pain at funeral for New Zealand terror attack victim

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Mourners perform congregational prayers on the sidelines of the funeral of Haji Mohammed Daoud Nabi, 71, a victim of the Al Noor Mosque massacre in Christchurch on March 21, 2019. (AFP)
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A photo taken on March 19, 2019, shows a "Hello Brother" message left in a tree outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch. "Hello brother." The warm-hearted words an elderly Muslim reportedly used to greet a white supremacist gunman have become Christchurch's answer to his volley of hate. (AFP)
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A policeman speaks with Omar Nabi, 43, (2nd R) and a mourner (R) after a biker gang accompanied the hearse vehicle for the funeral of Omar Nabi's father, Haji Mohammed Daoud Nabi, 71, a victim of the Al Noor Mosque massacre in Christchurch on March 21, 2019. (AFP)
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Members of a biker gang are welcomed by Omar Nabi, 43, (L) and a mourner (C) of the entourage accompanying the hearse vehicle before the funeral of Omar Nabi's father, Haji Mohammed Daoud Nabi, 71, a victim of the Al Noor Mosque massacre in Christchurch on March 21, 2019. (AFP)
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Tyler White, 8, (C) holds a sign that he and his father made that reads "Peace Unity" as he stands next to Omar Nabi, 43, (2nd R), his son Azayah Nabi-Roberts, 8, and nephew Amani (L), 9, after the funeral of Omar Nabi's father Haji Mohammed Daoud Nabi, 71, a victim of the Al Noor Mosque massacre in Christchurch on March 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2019
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‘Don’t cry’: Celebration trumps pain at funeral for New Zealand terror attack victim

  • Nabi was the man who unknowingly opened the door to his killer at the city’s Al Noor mosque, reportedly welcoming him with the words “Hello Brother”
  • That was the memory those laying him to rest wanted to broadcast on Thursday

CHRISTCHURCH: Heads bowed, their hair covered by black headscarves, female family members of Mohemmed Daoud Nabi gently wept as they approached his body until a fellow mourner called out “Don’t cry.”
It was a refrain heard repeatedly throughout the short, emotional funeral for 71-year-old Nabi, one of 50 people slain by a white supremacist gunman in Christchurch last Friday during a live broadcast rampage that caused global revulsion.
Those bidding farewell to the septuagenarian were determined to send out a message. This was a day of celebration, not of loss.
Nabi was the man who unknowingly opened the door to his killer at the city’s Al Noor mosque, reportedly welcoming him with the words “Hello Brother.”
And that was the memory those laying him to rest wanted to broadcast on Thursday.
Huddled together under a marquee on a grey and blustery day, Nabi’s sons recited prayers in Dari and Arabic as the former head of their family lay in a wooden casket at their feet.
“Those who live abroad and die or killed there will go to paradise,” one of the sons said, a reference to Nabi’s journey two decades before from war-torn Afghanistan to his adopted homeland New Zealand.
“He was killed in a mosque in a house of God. He was a true servant. He was a pious person,” he added.
After prayers mourners carefully lifted the casket aloft and carried Nabi toward the newly dug grave at Memorial Park Cemetery, one of dozens for victims of the massacre.
Those gathered were a reflection of the breadth of the community affected by Friday’s massacre, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, bikers, refugees, young families — all touched by Nabi and the warmth he showed.
Some held placards advocating peace and tolerance. Some sported those now two ubiquitous words: “Hello Brother.”
As Nabi’s body, wrapped in white cloth, neared the grave, quietness descended over the crowd. Family and close friends then gathered to pour earth from plastic buckets into the open casket.
Stretching out across the cemetery were row upon row of empty graves still waiting to be filled in the coming days.
It was a stark reminder of the sheer scale of the killings, 50 dead among a small, tight-knit community in a town with a population of some 350,000 people.
Yet the mood in the compound remained joyous and steered away from despair.
Heavily tattooed biker gang members mingled with men wearing Afghan dress, non-Muslims and smartly dressed community leaders, embracing, sharing memories and stories.
A long line of mourners took turns to hug Nabi’s sons.
“I’m happy because he went straight to Jannah (paradise),” Omar Nabi said. “The gunman didn’t even know he opened the gates to heaven for my dad.
“He is laughing at him and smiling at us... Have you ever congratulated anybody for a death? This is the time and this is the place. Don’t cry. Don’t be sad. Congratulations. Your father made it to heaven.”


Iran looks to Pakistan for mediation

Updated 25 May 2019
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Iran looks to Pakistan for mediation

  • Zarif started a two-day visit to Islamabad

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi assured his visiting Iranian counterpart on Friday that Islamabad would continue its efforts to ensure peace in the region, the Pakistani Foreign Office said. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif arrived in Pakistan to seek mediation amid heightened tensions between the Islamic Republic and the US.

Zarif started a two-day visit to Islamabad, ahead of next week’s emergency Arab League meeting. “Tensions in the region are in no one’s interest,” Qureshi said, promising that Islamabad would continue its efforts for peace in the region. AN