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May 30, 2020
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Funeral prayers of two Christchurch massacre victims offered

CHRISTCHURCH: The funeral prayers of two of the 50 victims of the Christchurch massacre were offered here.

Hundreds of mourners turned up for the funerals.

The burials were held in Memorial Park Cemetery in New Zealand’s Linwood city as New Zealanders braced for days of emotional farewells following the mass slayings.

The burials were of late Khalid Mustafa and his son, 14-year-old Hamza, both of whom hailed from Syria and had relocated to New Zealand in 2018. Their status was confirmed by refugee group Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, which added that Mustafa’s other son, 13-year-old Zaed, was “in a stable condition after a six-hour operation”.

Hamza, the son, was speaking to his mother on the phone when he was shot dead by the white terrorist.

The cemetery where the funerals took place was not far from Linwood Mosque, the second of the two places of worship targeted. Attendees hugged and embraced each other, milling under a large marquee next to rows of freshly dug graves.

Council official Jocelyn Ritchie told reporters: “After a short time for prayers, family and friends will carry the body to the grave site where it will be laid to rest.”

Among those in attendance was Abdul Aziz, an Afghan refugee who bravely confronted the white terrorist at Linwood Mosque. He was hugged by many mourners.

Separately, the body of Pakistani Syed Jahandad Ali, originally from Lahore, was handed over to his family earlier in the day, while some of the other bodies are set to be returned to the bereaved relatives soon.

According to Stuff NZ, police on Tuesday “released six bodies of the deceased, and announced a further 15 would be released shortly”.

By noon, the “bodies wrapped in white cloth were carried out by family members, mourners and some volunteers … before being carried to the grave, as mourners started the Janazah prayer”.

“All are lining up to bend down and comfort a young boy in a wheelchair, believed to be a family member,” the publication added.