A Nigerian postgraduate student who lives in Christchurch speaks on the New Zealand terror attacks
As the world mourns the gruesome murder of 49 Muslim worshippers in the hands of terrorists in New Zealand, a Nigerian resident of Christchurch, Abdul Hasib Suenu has revealed that he would have been at the Masjid An-Noor at the time of the incident if he had not observed the Friday prayers at the University of Canterbury school mosque.
Suenu, a doctoral candidate researching on International Economic Law told Muslim News Nigeria that he was on his way out of the University mosque when he received the news that Masjid An-Noor and Linwood Mosque were under terrorist attacks.
In his exclusive interview with Muslim News Nigeria, he revealed that the university was immediately locked down and nobody was allowed to leave the premises till around 6pm.
In his words, “If I had not observed my Jumu’ah at the University masjid, I would have also been at Masjid Al-Nur because it serves as the central mosque of Christchurch, and going there provides the opportunity for me to connect with non-students and new people.
“I visit the mosque as often as possible for both regular prayers and Jum’uah , because it is located at the city centre. It’s just about 10 minutes’ drive from the University and my residence.
“Christchurch is a quite small community, so almost everyone knows an affected person. Beyond the Muslim community, you can naturally feel that the entire city is in grief – the mood everywhere is not Christchurch-like. This is unprecedented.”
Muslim News Nigeria can authoritatively confirm that since the gory incident that looked like a movie scene, New Zealanders have stood out en masse in solidarity with Muslims.
We reliably gathered that the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who first described the attack as an act of terror, visited the Muslim community at the Canterbury Refugee Centre in Christchurch earlier today.
PM Jacinda wore a simple black Hijab during the visitation, as she paid tribute to the 49 Muslim worshippers who lost their lives during the terrorist attack carried out by a 28-year-old man from Australia, Brenton Harrison Tarrant.
Abdul Hasib, who studied Law at the Lagos State University (LASU), Lagos, Nigeria, said; “The terrorist act has been generally condemned by every level of the community. Also, the Prime Minister has vowed to toughen the country’s gun laws because the firearms used in the massacre were legally purchased.
“I also heard her saying that the New Zealand intelligence community has been stepping up their investigations in the area of far-right extremism, considering the global indicators.
“It’s still a moment of bereavement for the Muslim community. All masjids are still currently under lock based on security advice (9:09 pm NZ time), and people are more concerned about their affected friends and families.
“As a Muslim member of the University, I have been contacted by four different departments since the incident, just to give emotional and psychological support.”
Suenu, who bagged a Masters in International Business Law at the Girne American University was full of praises to Allah as he sympathised with the Muslim community and the entire Kiwis, the nickname used internationally for people from New Zealand.
He described the attacks on the Muslim places of worship as an extremely rude shock, stressing that, “we all harbour the idea that we live in one of the world’s safest and peaceful countries.”
Suenu, who moved to Christchurch, the location of one of the attacks exactly a year ago, said this is the first time mosques will be attacked with dozens of Muslims murdered in New Zealand.
“I am not aware of any attack on Muslims or any Islamic institution in New Zealand before now. Kiwis, unlike some others, are generally known to be peaceful, respectful and accommodating people. The attacks were very shocking. It has never happened before. That’s the more reason for the surprise.”
On whether it is safe for any Nigerian to live or study in New Zealand, Abdul Hasib said the sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean’s culture is accommodating and largely discourages discrimination against religious minorities.
“That’s why you would notice that the New Zealand media are quick to point out that the main suspect of the horrific attack is an Australian man. The Kiwis are quite desperate to protect the accommodating image they sell to the world. So, Nigerians are free to come study and work here,” he added.
– By Rasheed Abubakar
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