Heroic Pakistani dies after trying to stop New Zealand gunman

 khaleejtimes.com  03/17/2019 00:01:00  2  Sarwat Nasir/Dubai

Heroic Pakistani dies after trying to stop New Zealand gunman

Sarwat Nasir/Dubai

Filed on March 17, 2019 | Last updated on March 17, 2019 at 06.44 am

A Pakistani man who died during the Christchurch terrorist attack is being dubbed a hero after he tried to stop the shooting by launching himself at the gunman.

Naeem Rashid, who moved from Abbottabad to New Zealand to work as a teacher, was at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch with his 21-year-old son, Talha Naeem, for Friday prayers. Both of them passed away in the horrific mass shooting, which took the lives of 47 others at two separate mosques.

Rashid's photo was going viral on social media, along with a screenshot of him from the video the terrorist released. In the footage, Rashid can be seen launching himself at the gunman in an effort to stop him.

Rashid's wife, Ambreen, spoke to Khaleej Times over the phone from Christchurch. She called her husband "a hero".

"My son and my husband are heroes," Ambreen said, crying inconsolably. "This is the mosque they always went to. I still can't understand or believe why and how this happened. But, I know that my husband is a hero. He always helped people and even in his last moments, he did what he could to help others."

Rashid and Ambreen has three sons, two of them were not at the mosque at the time of the attack.

Talha, who was a civil engineering graduate, died at the mosque and Rashid passed away at the hospital. The 28-year-old Australian gunman shot his semi-automatic weapon at Rashid after he tried to stop him.

A close family friend of the Rashid family, Saima Ali, told Khaleej Times that she considered Rashid and Talha as heroes even before the shooting as they'd always come to her and her family's rescue when needed.

"It's devastating for all of us. That family is very close to us. Naeem was like an elder brother to me and my husband. I lived in Christchurch for six years. Their home was our daily go-to place. When we were upset, we would go talk to them. They were always there to help us. His sons, Talha and Abdullah, would look after our children when I was busy studying and my husband would be at work. Talha had just graduated and he had started a new job. He was such a good boy," Ali said.

"It was the regular mosque and it was our community mosque. You would always find people there and it was a happy place for us. People would just sit there even before and after prayer times. Talha and Naeem used to go there all the time. Talha was a very regular visitor. He prayed five times a day.

"I'm shocked at what happened because I've been in New Zealand for almost nine years and this is the first time I've seen a gun here ever. This is not the New Zealand I know."

sarwat@khaleejtimes.com

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