When you are standing in front of a brutal terrorist who is aiming to kill everyone around you, it takes up a lot of courage to risk your life for others and fight. That is what the hero of the Christchurch massacre, Naeem Rashid, chose to do, but unfortunately, he was also shot down just before lunging at the attacker to stop him.
On March 15th, now termed as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”, a gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch and killed all the worshipers within minutes. The horrific incident was streamed live on social media and the attacker involved, Brenton Tarrant, kept on firing ruthlessly even after spreading blood all around the mosque.
According to the official report, 49 people have lost their lives and a dozen more are severely injured.
Just like others, who knew that it would be the last Friday prayer of Naeem’s life and it was actually the time to meet his creator. He went to the Al Noor mosque with his 21-year-old son, Talha, who was also killed during the mass shooting. Although he failed to disarm the attacker and had no competence to deal with an automatic machine gun, yet his exceptional bravery and valour will be admired forever.
Rashid was born in Abbottabad, Pakistan and had moved to New Zealand in 2009 with an aim to pursue PhD and become a teacher. After working in the banking sector for years, he wanted to give back something better to the world. His eldest son, Talha, on the other hand, was an engineer by choice, but couldn’t live long enough to fulfil his dreams.
Sharing the detail of the incident, Rashid’s sister-in-law Naema Khan revealed,
“When [Rashid] attacked him, he shot him. Our Imam, I think he saw him, he said his face was towards the sky, and he didn’t know whether he was dead or not.
My son he text the video to me and he called my sister and said… ‘we’ll be remembering our uncle as a hero’.
He was a very nice person … he was trying to save people’s lives. We say that we always love New Zealand, that it’s a very peaceful country. No wonder people from all over the world are shocked to hear this news.”
While the family and friends are still in a state of shock, his brother Dr Khurshid Alam, a renowned ENT specialist in Lahore, also told about his last conversation with Naeem
“He was planning to visit Pakistan for my son’s wedding. It is ironic that now I might have to bring their bodies to Pakistan. My brave brother sacrificed his life. When we were younger, he would say that one should never stop helping others and should be willing to die with honor for a just cause. He has practiced what he preached.”
In response to this devastating act of violence, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern paid tribute to the martyred and has promised to stand up for the protection of migrants and the Muslim Community especially, within the country. She will now make sure that ‘there is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence’.
Back home, Prime Minister of Pakistan has also announced to honour Naeem Rashid with a posthumous national award for bravery.
May his soul rest in peace!