40 years after escaping war, Afghan killed in Christchurch mosque

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40 years after escaping war, Afghan killed in Christchurch mosque

In 1979, Haji Daoud Nabi escaped the Soviet-Afghan war and took his young family to safety in New Zealand.

Almost 40 years later, on Friday, he was shot and killed at Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.

The first named victim of the massacre, Nabi ran an Afghan Association and spent his life trying to help refugees start new lives, making sure they were fed and protected.

“He used to make them feel at home,” his 43-year-old son Omar, told Al Jazeera on the telephone from Christchurch.

Along with some of the other 48 people who were killed on Friday, including children, Nabi’s funeral will be held on Saturday.

“My father lived all his life in this country [New Zealand] and will be buried here,” said Omar.

During Friday prayers on the Al Noor and Linwood mosque, 28-year-old suspect Brenton Tarrant allegedly shot indiscriminately at the worshippers and livestreamed his assault – the worst mass shooting in the country’s modern history.

As several victims on Saturday remained in the hospital, including a four-year-old in critical condition, Tarrant appeared unrepentant in a court, staring down members of the press with a smirk.

He was charged with murder and remanded without a plea. His next appearance in the South Island city’s High Court will take place on April 5.

Nabi, 71, is survived by four sons, one daughter and nine grandchildren who he loved “immensely”, said Omar.

“His grandchildren really miss him and some of them don’t even know that he is no more with us.

“This is a very difficult time for us and for everyone who lost their loved ones in this massacre.”

Just two days ago, Nabi spoke of the importance of unity.

“My father said how important it is to spread love and unity among each other and protect every member of the society we live in,” Omar said.

His father also spoke about the end of his own life in a comment that is now ringing in Omar’s mind.

“He said the best place to pass away was during Friday prayers in a mosque.”

Some Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad said there is a virtue in dying on a Friday, Islam’s holiest day.

As victims grieve, the world is rallying around them with messages of support and fundraising.

A crowdfunding page has gathered almost $1m for the affected families.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah condemned the massacres in separate statements.

“Terrorist attacks on the mosques [in New Zealand] once again showed that terrorists are not dependent to any religion and they are the enemies of humanity,” Ghani said in the statement.

Wahidullah Waissi, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji said on Twitter that two Afghans were killed in the attack.

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