A survivor of the Christchurch Islamophobic attack, Farid Ahmed, peace activist, prolific author and AMUST columnist was given the prestigious  International Religious Freedom Award on Thursday 18 January 2024 in the award ceremony held in Washington DC. Here is an account of his journey in his own words.

International Religious Freedom (IRF) is an organisation under USA Government working through all its embassies around the world that was enacted in 1998, its current Ambassador being H E Rashad Hussain.

I came to their attention after the 15 March 2019 massacre in two Masjids in Christchurch, New Zealand. They invited me to their conference “Ministerial in advancing the religious freedom” in Washington DC in 2019 as a speaker to talk about the tragic event.

In Christchurch, we were attacked for our faith in Allah, and for our religion, Islam. We did not commit any crime against anyone. My wife and 50 other martyrs, and many injured did not harm anyone. They were peaceful worshippers.

It was an attack on our religious freedom like many other times in the history, Muslims were killed or persecuted for no other reason except for their faith in Allah.

Holy Quran describes:

“And they ill-treated them (the believers) for no reason other than that they believed in Allah, Exalted in Power, Worthy of all Praise.” [Quran 85:8]

After 15 March tragedy, I wanted to contribute along with others with the message of love, peace, and forgiveness to set the tone for peace. I spoke at national and international conferences to defend that Muslims are peaceful people, and Islam stands for peace, human rights, and against the killing of innocents.

My small contribution was possible for Allah’s Grace to me, and I thank Allah for it. I pray to Allah to forgive me for my shortcomings and grant me his Mercy and Guidance.

I was nominated for my work for the Secretary of State’s International Religious Freedom Award 2023, and IRF selected me as an awardee for which I travelled to Washington DC to attend the Award ceremony on Thursday 18 January 2024.

I was very humbled by this recognition, and again, all the praise to Allah, I am only His humble servant. I took the award not for my name or fame but for the opportunity that it may help in spreading the good message to all.

May Allah accept me as a good messenger of peace.

Besides, I would like to express thanks and gratitude to all who have supported the Christchurch Muslim Community after 15 March 2019 tragedy. Your love, support, Dua, and compassion has been helping us in our healing.

I dedicate my small achievement through the award to my beloved martyrs, victims of all sorts from the tragedy, peace-loving Muslims, and to all the peace-loving people in this world.

Let us continue to transform our tragedies into the vehicle of peace. Without losing hope, let us continue our efforts for  peace for all.

May Allah help all the oppressed, suppressed, and ill-treated people in this world!