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.”