‘Terrorism has no religion, no country’


President of Muslim Association of Canterbury says the attack is a lesson for all

On any other Friday, Shagaf Khan would have been in the front saff (row) of the Al Noor Masjid in Christchurch, New Zealand. But a work-related emergency kept him from going to the mosque when a terror suspect opened fire on Muslim worshippers killing and injuring dozens.

Born in Allahabad (now Prayagraj) in Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Khan is the president of Muslim Association of Canterbury that manages the Al Noor Mosque.

Speaking to The Hindu from Christchurch, Mr. Khan recounts the events that unfolded ahead of the terror attack.

“I am usually in the front row making announcements at the masjid. Last Friday, I could not go because of some work. The sermon begins at 1.40 p.m. and that is when a colleague, who was on the way to the masjid, heard the gunfire. He called me and told me to rush to the masjid.” That was one of several calls that Mr. Khan received on that day.

“Soon, I got many more calls. I was told that another masjid was hit. This is when I realised it was a terror attack,” he says.

Living in peace

Many of the congregants of Al Noor Masjid, he says, were those who arrived in New Zealand from conflict areas. All of them wished to live in peace.

“Whatever has happened is unexpected, especially in a country like New Zealand. These people are refugees. They came here from war zones. They came here to live peacefully. This is a lesson for us all – communities and security personnel – to be vigilant. Such a terror attack can happen anywhere,” he says.

Diverse communities

The diverse communities in New Zealand, he says, have come to the support of the Muslim community, in general, and the victims of the terror act, in particular. And despite living in New Zealand for several years, Mr. Khan still considers India his home.

“For the sake of ekta, we Indians should live together always. We should realise now that terrorism has no religion, no country. We are country and we are one body. This is how we should live,” he says.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 7:05:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/terrorism-has-no-religion-no-country/article26562192.ece

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