Wife of Christchurch hero says ‘overwhelmed’ by Saudi offer to host bereaved families for Hajj

Ambreen Rashid lost her husband Mian Naeem Rashid, 50, and her son Talha during the twin mosque attacks in Christchurch earlier this year. Ambreen's husband was posthumously awarded Pakistan's bravery medal, while her son posthumously received his uni degree. (Photo courtesy: ABC News/Mazoe Ford)
Updated 19 July 2019

Wife of Christchurch hero says ‘overwhelmed’ by Saudi offer to host bereaved families for Hajj

  • 200 family members of people killed in twin mosque attacks have been invited to Hajj as guests of King Salman
  • Naeem Rashid and his son were among nine Pakistanis shot dead in the New Zealand city of Christchurch in March

ISLAMABAD: The wife of a Pakistani man who died along with his son trying to confront a suspected white supremacist during twin mosque attacks in Christchurch earlier this year said she was “overwhelmed” by Saudi Arabia’s offer to bereaved families to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage as guests of King Salman.
Mian Naeem Rashid, 50, and his son Talha were among nine Pakistanis killed when a gunman attacked two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch in March, killing 50 people from countries including Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt and Jordan. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with the murders and will go on trial next year.
Rashid from Abbottabad, Pakistan, and a New Zealand resident for nine years, was at the Al Noor mosque with his 21-year-old son. He was seen lunging at the gunman in the livestream video the killer posted online.
Rashid’s wife said she was “overwhelmed by this gesture of Saudi Arabia” to send the bereaved families of the Christchurch attack on Hajj.
Speaking to Arab News via phone from her home in New Zealand, Ambreen Rashid said: “I am thankful to King Salman and the Crown Prince for keeping us in their thoughts and providing us the opportunity to visit our most holy and spiritual place.”
Rashid said she along with other families of the victims were approached by Saudi diplomats shortly after the March attacks with the offer to go on the Hajj pilgrimage as guests of the government.
On Tuesday, Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh, the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, formally announced that on the directives of King Salman, 200 members of the Christchurch victims’ families would perform Hajj this year.
Hosting the families during Hajj season is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to “confront and defeat terrorism” in all forms, Asheikh said, adding that his ministry was working with the Saudi embassy in New Zealand to make all arrangements for the families’ pilgrimage.
Earlier this year, Pakistan bestowed a national award on Naeem Rashid, with Prime Minister Imran Khan saying in a tweet: “Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was martyred trying to tackle the white supremacist terrorist and his courage will be recognized with a national award.”
“I remember last year I was talking to my husband that I wanted to perform Hajj, but we weren’t in the position financially,” said Rashid who will travel to Saudi Arabia in the first week of August with her two sons. “But he told me then not to worry and trust Allah and now when I have been blessed with the opportunity to perform Hajj, I can’t express how much I miss my husband. I wish he was with me.”


Pakistani jailed for Dutch anti-Islam MP murder plot

Updated 18 November 2019

Pakistani jailed for Dutch anti-Islam MP murder plot

  • A Dutch court found the 27-year-old guilty of ‘planning a murder with a terrorist motive’
  • The judge added four years in jail to the six years sought by the prosecution

THE HAGUE: A Dutch court sentenced a Pakistani man to 10 years behind bars Monday for planning to assassinate a politician Geert Wilders after the MP announced an anti-Islam cartoon competition.
The man, identified as Junaid I. by local media, was arrested in August 2018 at a train station in The Hague after he posted a film on Facebook in which he said he wanted to “send Wilders to hell” and urged others to help.
Judges at The Hague’s district court found the 27-year-old man, who had traveled from France, guilty of “planning a murder with a terrorist motive” and “incitement to commit a terrorist deed.”
“The suspect more than once said that Wilders’ death would be a good deed,” said presiding judge Jan van Steen, who added four years in jail to the six years sought by the prosecution.
“Furthermore, the suspect wanted to commit the murder in one of the parliamentary buildings, the heart of Dutch democracy,” Van Steen said, adding “the court is alarmed that the suspect... declared that this case will boost his image in Pakistan.”
The suspect had denied any terror-related motives.
He said during the trial that he was “peace-loving” and had only traveled to the Netherlands from France to protest against Wilders’ cartoon competition.
The Facebook video was seen by more than 153,000 people and shared 14,000 times.
Far-right leader Wilders canceled his plans two days later to stage a cartoon competition against the Prophet of Islam, a move that angered many Muslims, particularly in Pakistan where protests were led by the hard-line Islamist Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party.
Wilders, 56, known for his peroxide bouffant hairdo and firebrand anti-immigration and anti-Islamist statements, lives in a safe house and has been granted 24-hour protection by the Dutch state.
The court did not say how Junaid I. planned to kill Wilders but found that in a bugged phone call after his arrest he said he took “specific things with him... without which his mission would not be complete.”
He had also walked round with a “large backpack, which he did not have when he was arrested” and lied about what it contained, the judges said.
A day after Wilders announced the cancelation, an Afghan man stabbed two American tourists at Amsterdam’s main train station. The man, who said he wanted to “protect the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” was last month sentenced to 26 years in jail.