Pakistan confers award on Christchurch mosque hero for bravery

Pakistan confers award on Christchurch mosque hero for bravery
This picture was taken after an investiture ceremony organized by officials of Pakistan and New Zealand in Christchurch to honor Naeem Rasheed on May 4, 2019. Rasheed's family and friends can be seen in the image holding Nishan-e-Shujaat that was conferred on the Christchurch Mosque hero by the Pakistan high commissioner in New Zealand. (Photo Courtesy: Mrs. Ambreen Naeem)
Updated 06 May 2019

Pakistan confers award on Christchurch mosque hero for bravery

Pakistan confers award on Christchurch mosque hero for bravery
  • Naeem Rasheed’s wife and children are spending their first Ramadan after the tragedy
  • He was given Nishan-e-Shujaat posthumously at an investiture ceremony in New Zealand

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan conferred one its highest civilian awards on Christchurch Mosque hero Naeem Rasheed, said his widow Ambreen Naeem while talking to Arab News on Monday from her New Zealand residence as she prepared to break her fast on the first day of Ramadan without her husband and eldest son Talha.
Rasheed’s wife received Nishan-e-Shujaat – or Order of Bravery – on Saturday at an investiture ceremony attended by more than a hundred people at the Templeton Community Center in New Zealand. Notables were Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Minister Megan Woods, senior Turkish diplomats, and Pakistan’s Deputy and High Commissioners.
“The medal was given to me by Pakistan’s High Commissioner, Mr. Abdul Malik,” she said, adding that “it was supposed to be given by the country’s president” but he was unable to undertake the trip.
Pakistan announced the award a few days after the brazen mosque attacks in which 50 people, including nine Pakistanis, were killed and many more were injured. The award was expected to be given on March 23, the Pakistan Day.
“All the high dignitaries came to the funeral including the MPs, mayors, and deans of universities. The award basically came from Pakistan, and the ceremony could only be organized after the burial process,” Naeem said while explaining the reason behind the delay in handing over the award.
Rasheed lost his life while trying to disarm 28-year-old Australian gunman, Brenton Tarrant, who launched two consecutive terrorist attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday Prayer on March 15.
Tarrant livestreamed the attack and published a racist manifesto online.
One of his victims, Naeem Rasheed, could be seen in the video footage launching himself at the attacker at Masjid Al Noor in a bid to disarm him. He was gunned down but his act of valor distracted the shooter, allowing some worshippers to escape.
Rasheed’s 21-year-old son, Talha Naeem, was also killed in the attack and eye witnesses and relatives described his last few moments as having been spent shielding an Indian boy from the attacker.
“Very few people know about the heroic effort of my nephew [Talha],” Rizwan Rasheed, Naeem’s brother and a retired air force pilot, said earlier. “At the time of the shooting, he was offering his prayers. After being shot, he fell on the floor and there was a boy next to him ... he covered the boy and told him not to move as the shooter fired a second round to ensure everyone was killed.”
Naeem Rasheed, 50, was a Pakistani professor from the northwestern city of Abbottabad who migrated to New Zealand in 2009. His wife, who currently lives with her sister- and brother-in-law, said she would soon move to her own home.
Describing the feeling of emptiness in her life after losing two courageous family members, she said: “We all used to prepare Sehri and Iftaar together. I have a strong faith in Allah. I am trying my best to observe Ramadan with my children as we used to in the past, but this is going to be very difficult for us to cope with. I miss them a lot, I wish they were here with me. I pray for them a lot too.”