Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 26 August 2019

Pakistan to honour man who confronted Christchurch gunman

Naeem Rashid is seen lunging towards attacker in footage of assault on Al Noor mosque

 Pakistani citizen Rashid Naeem, who was killed along with and his son Talha Naeem in the Christchurch shooting.
 Pakistani citizen Rashid Naeem, who was killed along with and his son Talha Naeem in the Christchurch shooting.

A Pakistani man killed as he appeared to confront the gunman in the Christchurch mosque attacks will be given a national bravery award, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said.

Nine Pakistanis were among the 50 people shot dead in the terrorist gun attack on two mosques in the New Zealand city.

Video of the massacre taken by the gunman shows Naeem Rashid being shot down at Al Noor mosque while apparently lunging at the attacker as other worshipers flee.

"Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was martyred trying to tackle the white supremacist terrorist and his courage will be recognised with a national award," Mr Khan said.

Rashid, 50, died alongside his eldest son, 21-year-old Talha Naeem. He was a banker by profession and moved to New Zealand in 2009 to study, local media reported.

Rashid's brother told the BBC he had watched the video of the attack and considered him a hero. “I did not see an iota of fear in his eyes and that made me proud. What a brave man he was. I knew if I had any problem, he would be standing with me, I had no doubt about it, but to do it for others once he could have run away, that speaks volumes about him.”

Officials identified the other Pakistanis killed as Sohail Shahid, Syed Jahandad Ali, Syed Areeb Ahmed, Mahboob Haroon, Zeeshan Raza, his father Ghulam Hussain and mother Karam Bibi.

It was also disclosed that the main suspect in the attacks had visited Pakistan last year. Brenton Tarrant, who was on Saturday charged with one count of murder with more expected to follow, visited the north of the country in October. The 28-year-old visited the Hunza valley known for its hiking and breathtaking mountain scenery.

Syed Israr Hussain, owner of Osho Thang Hotel in Minapin Nagar, told AFP that Tarrant had stayed for two days before leaving for the Khunjerab Pass on the border with China.

He described him as “a decent and quiet guy" who had “said he had heard so many negative things about Pakistan but he found it the opposite".

The death of so many Pakistanis has caused shock in the country. Mr Khan said in the aftermath of the shooting that he blamed such attacks “on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam and 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim.

“This has been done deliberately to also demonise legitimate Muslim political struggles,” he said.

A statement from Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: “The mindless killing spree carried out by the terrorists once again proved that terrorism knows no religion or boundaries. Pakistan itself was a victim of terrorism and has lost more than 70,000 innocent lives. This affirms Pakistan’s narrative that terrorism is an international phenomenon, having no religion and should not be associated with any religion.”

Updated: March 17, 2019 05:34 PM

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