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Dublin: 21 °C Friday 19 July, 2019
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Man whose wife was killed in NZ terror attack says he forgives gunman, as death toll rises to 50

A three-year-old boy is the youngest known victim of the mass shooting.

Christians attend a special prayer service for the victims of Christchurch mosques shooting, at a church in Hyderabad, Pakistan.
Christians attend a special prayer service for the victims of Christchurch mosques shooting, at a church in Hyderabad, Pakistan.
Image: Pervez Masih/AP/Press Association Images

A MAN WHOSE wife was killed in the Christchurch attack as she rushed back into a mosque to rescue him said he harbours no hatred toward the gunman, insisting forgiveness is the best path forward.

“I would say to him ‘I love him as a person’,” Farid Ahmad told AFP. “I could not accept what he did. What he did was a wrong thing.”

Asked if he forgave the 28-year-old white supremacist suspect, he said: “Of course. The best thing is forgiveness, generosity, loving and caring, positivity.”

Husna Ahmed (44) is among 50 people, and at least four women, killed in the attack on two mosques where worshippers had gone for prayers on Friday.

When the shooting started, she helped several 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 towards a safe garden,” Ahmad said.

“Then she was coming back for checking about 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.”

Ahmad (59) who has been confined to a wheelchair since being hit by a drunk driver in 1998, believes he escaped the hail of bullets because the gunman was focused on other targets.

This guy was shooting one person two, three times, probably that gave some time to us to move out … even the dead he was shooting them again.

Ahmad did not see his wife when he left the mosque and only learned of her death after someone photographed her body.

“Her picture was out in the social media, so somebody showed me the picture and I identified quite easily.”

bros Abdifatah Ibrahim (centre), and his brother Abdi (right) walk with an unidentified friend in Christchurch today. Their three-year-old brother Mucaad is the youngest known victim of the mass shooting. Source: Mark Baker/AP/Press Association Images

Ahmad on Sunday faced the difficult task of formally identifying his wife’s body and claiming her belongings. 

If he were able to sit down with the suspected mass murderer, he said he would encourage him to rethink his outlook on life.

“I will 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, save humanity rather than destroy them,” he said.

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

Manifesto

Australian suspect Brenton Tarrant has yet to enter a plea in the single murder charge so far brought against him.

The self-professed white supremacist made a white power symbol when in court. His meandering “manifesto” is filled with racist vitriol, detailing two years of planning for the massacre.

In the 74-page screed, he says he first began considering an attack in April and May 2017 while travelling in France and elsewhere in western Europe.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her office received a copy of the manifesto minutes before the attack.

“I was one of more than 30 recipients of the manifesto that was mailed out nine minutes before the attack took place,” Ardern told reporters today. 

“It did not include a location, it did not include specific details,” she said, adding that it was sent to security services within two minutes of receipt.

Ardern said she had read “elements” of the lengthy, conspiracy-filled far-right “manifesto”.

“The fact that there was an ideological manifesto with extreme views attached to this attack, of course, that is deeply disturbing,” she said.

Ardern said a small number of bodies would start being released to families today, and authorities hope to release all the bodies by Wednesday. Thirty-four people remain in hospital, including 12 in intensive care.

© AFP 2019, with reporting by Órla Ryan  

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