New Zealand holds first funerals for terror attack victims
The Muslim burial ceremony for the victims of the recent terrorist attacks targeting two mosques in New Zealand has begun with the funeral two members of a Syrian family, who had fled war back home and taken refuge in the city of Christchurch.
On Wednesday, hundreds of mourners gathered near the Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch — one of two places that were struck in a shooting attack last week — for the funeral ceremony of Syrian refugee Khalid Mustafa and his 16-year-old son, Hamza.
The father and son were among 50 people who were killed on Friday by Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant, who opened fire on worshipers during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch.
Mustafa’s younger son, Zaid, 13, was also wounded in the shooting but survived.
The bodies, wrapped in white cloths, were laid to rest after being carried in open caskets on the shoulders of mourners into a large tent at Christchurch’s Memorial Park Cemetery.
The ceremony was held in the presence of heavily-armed police, who stood guard with flowers attached to their rifles.
Graves dug, families anxious to receive bodies
Dozens of graves have been prepared in the city’s cemetery for families to bury their loved ones after receiving the bodies.
Islamic tradition calls for a deceased person to be buried as soon as possible after death.
Seven days on, the bodies of only six victims have been returned to families.
Police say they are working with families to identify the bodies and return them for burial.