Dhaka, Wednesday   20 March 2019

Burials begin for Christchurch shootings victims

 International Desk  daily-bangladesh.com

 Published: 11:29 AM, 20 March 2019  



A father and son from Syria have been buried in the first funerals for those killed in the New Zealand mosque shootings that left 50 people dead.

Khaled Mustafa, 44, and Hamza, 16, came as refugees to New Zealand last year.

Islamic tradition calls for bodies to be buried as soon as possible, but the burials have been delayed by the scale of the identification process.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a self-described white supremacist, has been charged with murder. 

Hundreds of mourners gathered at a cemetery near the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch on Wednesday, one of two places of worship targeted in the attack that took place last Friday. 

The two victims, who were killed at the Al-Noor mosque, came as refugees from Syria with their family.

Khaled leaves behind a wife and a younger teenage son who was also injured in the attack. Zaid Mustafa attended the funeral in a wheelchair.

"I shouldn't be standing in front of you. I should be lying beside you," the son and younger brother of the two said according to bystanders cited by AFP. 

A large marquee had been set up so relatives and friends were able to spend time with their dead before they were buried.

More funerals are expected later on Wednesday. 

Police on Wednesday named six of the victims of the shootings at the Al Noor mosque and hoped to release all 50 bodies to the families by the end of the day. All post-mortem examinations were complete, police said.

Yet some families expressed frustration with the delayed identification process. Mohamed Safi, 23, whose father Matiullah Safi died at the Al Noor mosque, complained about the lack of information.

He told AFP: "They are just saying they are doing their procedures... Why do I not know what you are going through to identify the body?"

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said authorities had to prove the cause of death to establish for the courts to treat it as murder. 

"You cannot convict for murder without that cause of death," he said. "So this is a very comprehensive process that must be completed to the highest standard."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced two minutes of silence on Friday, 22 March which is the Muslim day of prayer and will mark one week since the shooting.

There will also a broadcast of the Islamic call to prayer on national TV and radio on Friday.