Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 9 December 2019

Saudi king invites families affected by New Zealand terror attack to attend Hajj

Several families said they have already been contacted and some planned to attend

A Muslim pilgrim arrives at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, before the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. AFP
A Muslim pilgrim arrives at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, before the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. AFP

The King of Saudi Arabia has invited families and victims of the terrorist attack in New Zealand earlier this year to attend Hajj next month.

In March, an armed Australian citizen stormed two mosques in the city of Christchurch, murdering more than 50 people and wounding dozens of others.

King Salman instructed the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to co-ordinate with the families of the victims and those wounded to arrange their travel for Hajj. Several families told The National that they had been in touch with the Saudi officials and some said they planned to attend.

Aya Al Umari, the sister of Hussein Al Umari who was killed in the attack, said her family had been contacted by a representative from the Muslim World League about the trip.

She said she would love to go if she has the opportunity. She was initially hoping her mother, Janna Ezat, would join her, but she is unable to do so this year. Ms Al Umari had already told her boss she would probably need a few days off for the break.

“You have to do it yourself before you can go on behalf of someone, so I said to Mum: ‘I’ll go this year and when Mum goes next time I’ll do it then for Hussein,’” she told The National.

“But, honestly, Hajj is a distant dream and if it wasn’t for Hussein I would never have been able to go this year,” she said.

The UAE-based engineering executive Adeeb Sami, who was shot twice in the attacks and is now at home in Al Ain, said he had also been contacted but was not well enough to attend Hajj.

He said he has to return to Christchurch for his fourth operation, which is scheduled to happen at the same time as Hajj. He said that he previously undertook Hajj in 2002, but joked that it was time for a renewal.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdullatif Al Sheikh said the invitation was part of the kingdom’s commitment to combating extremism and supporting the victims of terrorist attacks.

Updated: August 1, 2019 04:16 PM

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