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One Year Later: New Zealand's Deadly Mosque Attacks


One year ago today, a self-proclaimed racist in Christchurch, New Zealand, killed 51 people. This became the deadliest mass shooting in that country's history. The Muslims attacked were at their mosques for Friday prayers. The attacks sparked global outrage about the lack of attention paid to a growing movement of white supremacy. And in response, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern banned most semiautomatic assault weapons across her country and denounced the racism and bigotry that motivated the attacker.

Farid Ahmed was at Masjid An-Nur, one of the two mosques attacked that day. He lost his wife Husna, also that day. And we've reached him in Wellington, New Zealand.

Thank you so much for being with us. And my deepest condolences on this terrible anniversary.

FARID AHMED: Thank you so much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How are you today? How are you experiencing this day?

AHMED: Today is a special day - thinking about her more. One year gone - we are moving on. We are going ahead with positive direction. So I'm feeling great, actually, and I'm feeling thankful to God.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tell us a little bit about Husna, your wife.

AHMED: Husna was a very magnetic person. She had lots of good qualities. For example, she lost so many things in her life. When she was only eight-months-old baby, she lost her mother. When she was about 11 or 12, she lost her father. Looking at her, one could not understand that she had so much pain. She was always smiley. And whoever used to come to her, she could make them smile. And she was brilliantly positive. She was like a ball of energy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What are the feelings towards the man who attacked your community now?

AHMED: My feeling is I feel sympathetic, as I always felt sympathetic (inaudible) because he ruined himself. He did not gain anything. He did not solve anything. Hating does not solve anything. Hating does not bring any gain - not for him, not for anyone. And he made terrible mistake, and I pray for him - that may God give him guidance.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just briefly - on this anniversary, what would you like the world to know?

AHMED: I want the world to know that hate is not the answer. Hate does not solve anything. Hate destroys us. Hate divide us. So if there is anyone who hate one another, we should learn lesson from it. And we should be loving. If there is any differences between us which is obvious, then there is always a way to solve our problem, and that is the peaceful way.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Farid Ahmed is a survivor of the Christchurch mosque attacks that took the lives of 51 people in New Zealand, including his wife.

Thank you very much for speaking with us today.

AHMED: Thank you. It's an honor. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.