In the midst of unfathomable hate and violence like the world witnessed this week in the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand it’s difficult, but necessary, to find a silver lining. Remembering the victims and the survivors helps, and so does telling their stories.
One Muslim hero at the Linwood Islamic Center, one of the shooter’s targets, managed to fight the shooter off. According to Syed Mazharuddin (via The New Zealand Herald) who witnessed the attack, the young man took a gun from the shooter and chased after him.
“The young guy who usually takes care of the mosque … he saw an opportunity and pounced on [the gunman] and took his gun.” Mazharuddin added “The hero tried to chase and he couldn’t find the trigger in the gun … he ran behind him but there were people waiting for him in the car and he fled.”
The man was Abdul Aziz, an immigrant from Afghanistan who owns a furniture shop in Christchurch. According to him, he hurled a credit card swiping machine at the attacker to thwart him.
“I saw a man with an army uniform and I say, ‘Who the hell are you?’ And he started swearing at me,” Aziz told Radio New Zealand.
He then picked up a shotgun and chased the attacker.
“When I went to the side of the mosque I saw there was a dead body with a shotgun there […] I just grabbed that shotgun [but] when I pulled the trigger there was no bullet in it,” Aziz said.
“The gun I had in my hand, the shotgun, I just threw it at him like a spear at his window. His window blasted and he got really shocked—he thought I had shot at him or something.”
When Aziz was asked about saving lives that day, he was humble.
“Actually, I didn’t save them. Allah, God, saved them,” he said.
Aziz, rightly hailed as a hero, described the attack in a recent interview:
That kind of profound bravery in the face of violent hate is something the world could use more of right now.