Just over three weeks ago, Mohammed Amin arrived in Christchurch to visit his son — today he lies in a hospital bed in a coma after being shot during Friday’s mosque attack.
- Yasir Amin’s father was visiting New Zealand when he was shot
- Yasir had to identify 9 bodies, including his best friend
- Mohammed Amin remains in an induced coma
Mr Amin is a single father of three and was in the city to visit his youngest son when they were both caught up in the terrorist shooting at two mosques.
Before arriving in New Zealand, Mohammed was talking to his friends about how safe New Zealand was.
“‘It’s safe — no gunmen, no guns‘,” Yasir said his father told friends.
“You can come to Christchurch — it’s far from all of the world, it’s a very controlled place,” Yasir told 7.30.
On Friday afternoon, the pair continued their father-son tradition of heading to afternoon prayers.
“We got out of the car and walked 10-15 steps and I heard a gunshot, but I didn’t take it seriously,” Yasir said.
“After 15-20 seconds I heard another gunshot.
“I realised something was wrong. I said, ‘Daddy, we have to run. They’re fighting’.”
Yasir and his father were walking along the road toward the mosque and did not realise the shooting was coming from the car next to them.
“By that time that guy spotted us, drove his car 15 metres towards us. Right in front of us, 7 to 8 metres away and we started to run away from him,” Yasir said.
“He’s quick. We didn’t have enough time. My father was not as quick and was a couple of steps behind me. He got shot.
“I saw blood around his body.”
Yasir did not see the man who shot his father and said all he could “remember is a big gun”.
As the car drove away, Yasir called an ambulance. He had no idea of the carnage just metres away from him inside the mosque.
Grief cut short
Mohammed underwent two surgeries to remove the three bullets lodged in his body and is in an induced coma.
Yasir Amin said his father is “very special” to him, even more so since his mother died when Yasir was just six years old.
He wanted to stay by his father’s side, but was given another grim task: identifying the bodies of other victims at the morgue.
One of the nine people he identified was his best friend, Nahim Rashid.
“He was very close to me. Every Friday he and his son went to the mosque. He tried to jump on the gunman, but he couldn’t [stop him],” Yasir said.
A horrible ‘awakening’ for Christchurch
Christchurch City Councillor Anne Galloway said she sat and prayed with women in a room in the Al Noor mosque in 2017 — the same room in which they were killed two years later.
Ms Galloway said, although the shooter was not a local, the terror attack was a reminder that the city is not insulated from bigotry and hate.
“We have consoled ourselves a little bit by the fact that this person came into this city, however I think that this is an awakening that we have also got people in our community who share similar views,” she said.
“That’s going to be a challenge for us going forward — what do we do with that … hate? How do we build the safe connected communities we all want, knowing that that could be there?”
Ms Galloway is doing what so many others in the city have done over these dark days.
“I think there are a lot of tears that haven’t been shed yet because we’re in shock this has happened in our city, in our country,” she said.
Many New Zealanders still in shock
For many, this is the second tragedy in less than a decade.
In 2011, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake killed 185 people in Christchurch and clinical psychologist Martin Dorahy said it was still “fresh in [the] mind” for a number of locals.
“It’s been eight years, but it hasn’t felt that long,” Dr Dorahy said.
“There’s rebuilding all around us, people are getting on but people are struggling and continue to struggle.”
He said the events on Friday could trigger dormant trauma suffered in the earthquake.
“It really reawakens for those people who haven’t got over the earthquake,” he said.
“‘Not again, this is tough. How are we going to get through this? Are we going to make it?’ — those types of questions come up.”
But this time it was not a natural disaster. This time it was “very targeted”.
“A group who feel really targeted by this and another group who really feel helpless what to do when to do it — when to connect, how to be able to assist,” Dr Dorahy said.
“Trying to understand this in any meaningful way will take a long time — it feels so far out of people’s comprehension.”
Watch the full story on 7.30 tonight.