Farid Ahmed moved to New Zealand in 1988. Since 2013, he has been confined to a wheelchair due to a car accident. During the attack, his wife Husna saved a group of worshippers. Whilst returning to help her husband, Brenton Tarrant, the terrorist, shot her in the back.
Wellington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Despite the pain, Farid Ahmed (pictured), a 59-year-old Bangladeshi who lost his wife Husna in the attacks against the Islamic community in Christchurch, has the strength to forgive and the courage to say "I still love you" to the murderer, 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant who, armed with assault rifles, killed 50 people: 42 at the Al Noor mosque and eight at the Linwood Islamic Centre.
Farid Ahmed moved to New Zealand in 1988. Six years later, he was joined by the woman he married on the day of her arrival. He has been in a wheelchair since 2013 because of a traffic accident.
When Tarrant broke into the Al Noor mosque shooting indiscriminately, Husna Ahmed was in the women's section. Reacting to the situation, Husna yelled “Hold your children, come this way,” as she led a group out of the building through a side door. Once women and children were out of danger, she then returned in search of her husband. The gunman shot her from behind as she ran.
"I was asked 'how do you feel about the person who killed your wife?' and I said 'I love that person because he is a human, a brother of mine," Farid said.
He still cannot hate Tarrant, he said. "I do not support what he did - he got it wrong. But maybe he was hurt, maybe something happened to him in his life . . . but the bottom line is, he is a brother of mine.”
"I have forgiven him and I am sure if my wife was alive, she would have done the same thing.”
Since the shooting Farid has thought about the gunman during his sleepless nights. "[I]t came to me then that I wish I could give him a hug, I wish I could meet his mother and give her a hug and say 'you are my aunty'. I wish if he had a sister, I could hug her and say 'you are no different than my sisters'. Some people might call me crazy but I speak from my heart, I am not pretending – if I got an opportunity, I would hug him."
Farid hopes the gunman – and others who hold the same ideas – will reflect on what had happened and change their life. "Every human has two sides – evil and humanitarian; bring out your humanitarian . . . instead of killing and hate . . . I wish I could say that. If I can change one person from cruelty to generosity, I'll be honoured."
Days after the massacre, expressions of solidarity by New Zealanders continue to pour in in a country still shaken by the worst episode of violence in its modern history.
Meanwhile, the government is taking measures to prevent similar tragedies. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on all military style semi-automatic weapons. Police also issued a statement saying that all the victims in the attacks have been identified, and that burials can take place.