Mr Farid Ahmed, survivor of the Christchurch mosque shootings last year whose wife Husna Ahmed was one of the 51 victims who were killed, visited Sydney on Wednesday 11 March 2020 invited by PM Scot Morrison.
Farid, who made headlines by becoming the symbol of forgiveness, also gave an exclusive interview to AMUST reflecting on his feelings one year on after the incident.
A national remembrance service marking one year was to take place in Christchurch’s North Hagley Park on Sunday 15 March had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Christchurch City Council said it would jointly lead the service , ‘Ko tātou, tātou – We are one’ with the local Muslim community, the government and Ngāi Tūāhuriri as mana whenua to remember and honour the 51 people who died in the attacks, and build on the spirit of unity that came out of the tragedy.
Farid was hosted in Sydney by his brother in law, Mr Mohammed Ferdous Alam, whose wife is the sister of Farid’s wife Husna. Mr Alam was the Imam at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch for almost two years before migrating to Australia.
Farid is a Muslim community leader in Christchurch and has has lived in New Zealand for 30 years. Twenty-one years ago he became a paraplegic when a drunk driver ran him over on the street. Farid survived, but is now confined to a wheelchair.
Since the attacks he has gone around the world, spreading his message of forgiveness and love for all. He has since been honoured with an international peace award, and travelled to Middle East, Europe and US meeting President Donald Trump and now Australia meeting PM Scot Morrison.
A very friendly and humble man, he was delighted to see a copy of AMUST and wished to write for AMUST about his reflections and ideas on spreading the message of peace and harmony.
Talking about the trauma of the incident last year, Farid said he wished he could have swapped places with his wife who died after running back to help her husband, since he was in a wheelchair.
As people reflect on the anniversary of 51 lives lost, he said “people give too much importance to anger, ego and hate and I people could focus on forgiveness love, peace and living in harmony with one another.”
Shortly after the attacks while grieving after the loss of his wife and fellow worshipers at the mosque, he came out in public and forgave the gunman.
He said that the act of forgiveness helped him to stop being bitter.
“Sometimes people say you have forgiven, you have done a great thing but I say no, not compared to her. I only have given up the feeling that I don’t want to be angry, I don’t want to be hateful. So she is a great motivation.”
Talking about his grief in losing his life partner he said, “Every day I go to the mosque and she is not there beside me … it makes me cry … we were more than just husband and wife. We shared the same vision, same mission.”
He said the everybody all over the world highly appreciated New Zealand’s ongoing support and love for the Muslim community since the attacks.
He hoped people could learn to stand in unity with one another and make time for what counts.
In honour of his wife’s memory, Farid has released a book called Husna’s Story published recently. He is donating the royalties from all sales to St John Ambulance service.
Husna Ahmed was a victim of the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack on Friday 15 March 2019. She was shot while looking for her husband, who was in a wheelchair.
In this book Husna’s husband, Farid Ahmed, tells Husna’s story, including the day of the attack.
Farid describes the selflessness and bravery with which Husna lived her life. As well as looking after her daughter and paraplegic husband, Husna was an important member of the community, helping women and running classes for children.
Her last selfless act was going back into the mosque to look for her husband on that fateful day, after she had already led other women and children to safety.
Husna’s husband, Farid quite remarkably, forgives the alleged killer. Farid’s philosophy of forgiveness, peace and love is an example of how faith and humanity can be tools for navigating even the most horrific of tragedies.