Husband of victim says he forgives NZ mosque gunman | 2019-03-18 |

Husband of victim says he forgives NZ mosque gunman

NZ Herald

18th March, 2019 07:20:04 printer

Husband of victim says he forgives NZ mosque gunman

As a gunman stormed into the Al Noor mosque firing indiscriminately at worshippers, Husna Ahmed had one priority - getting the women and children to safety.


“Hold your children, come this way,” she screamed as she led the group out a side door and through a gate away from the storm of bullets and carnage behind them.


Once sure they were out of harm’s way, Husna returned inside to help her wheelchair-bound husband.


Farid Ahmed was hit by a drunk driver six years ago and was left paralysed.


Husna knew he had no way of escaping the shooter and was desperate to reach him, to help him get away.


As she made her way back into the mosque, she was shot from behind and killed.


Inside, Farid thought he was the one who would be killed.


“It was a horrible scene … I saw blood, I saw people injured, I saw dead bodies, people in panic,” he told the Herald today.


“They were pushing one and other trying to get out-- I thought ‘how can I get out’.”


“Mentally, I prepared myself, I told myself to calm down and there was no point panicking - whatever will happen, will happen.”


Farid was in a side room and could not see the gunman, but he could hear shot after shot, screams of sheer terror.


Windows were smashed and people started clambering out.


Farid then saw a gap in the terrified crowd and decided to try and wheel himself out.


“I took the chance and I came out slowly and I was expecting that any moment I would be shot in my head from the back.”


“I gently came out further and got outside… my car was parked behind the mosque and I just went behind it and decided to stay there.”


From his hiding place Farid kept an eye on the door he thought the women and children would come from.


No one came and he was confident his wife would have stepped up to lead them out, that they would be safe.


He had no idea that she was lying dead on the other side of the mosque.


“I could not see him [the gunman] but I could hear him … I could hear the shooting stopped for a few seconds and started again and I thought he was probably changing magazines, he did that about seven times.”


After about 10 minutes, Farid was sure the shooting was over.


“I had a feeling that probably, he had done his job,” he said.


He and another worshipper decided to go back inside.


“It was probably a stupid thing to do, but I could not think any other way at the time,” he explained.


“I wanted to check the ladies - and my wife.”


“As we went in I saw dead bodies, it was clear they were trying to come out and they were shot from behind and fell on their faces.”


“We went into the main room and the bullet shells were everywhere.”


Farid came to New Zealand in 1988 and Husna in 1994.


They married the day she arrived in Auckland and moved to Nelson that week.


They moved back to Auckland after Farid’s accident and he trained in homeopathy.


“She had a wonderful personality,” he said.


“She was magnetic, very special - and a good mum.”


“I am so very proud of her ... she won the hearts of millions of people and I told my daughter that we should live on this memory, we should be happy for her rather than cry.”


Farid was still reeling from the ‘calculated’ attack that has ended at least 50 lives.


But he was determined not to let it destroy his life.


“You cannot turn the clock back, but what we can do from now is we can either beat ourselves and suffer, or turn around and turn this experience into a better future,” he said.


“There is no need for anger - anger and fighting doesn't fix anything, but through love and care we can warm hearts. We should do that.”


Farid said he did not, and could not hate the gunman.


In fact, extraordinarily, he has forgiven the alleged mass murderer.


“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,” 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.”


“I hold no grudge.”


Farid said On Sunday night when he could not sleep his thoughts turned to the gunman.