Christchurch mosque terror attacks: 'They were good people that lived a good life here'

9:19 pm on 16 March 2019

"I lost a number of my very, very close childhood friends" - Mohammed Abdelhalim cries as he speaks of his friends who were killed in the Christchurch mosque terror attacks.

"Three of them had young families, we were all raised together here as immigrants, 25 years ago. Most of us went to Christchurch schools and Canterbury university. All of us were law-abiding good citizens, family people that had no malice and no aggression and nothing but love for this country."

Watch Logan Church's full interview with Mohammed Abdelhalim here:

Mohammed Abdelhalim told RNZ that his father was taking prayers at the mosque at the time of the attack.

His brother and mother were also there. He was working in Auckland at the time, and spent many hours fearing for the safety of his family.

His dad and brother were unhurt, but his mother was shot in the arm. He says she is thankfully making a good recovery.

He wants people to know that his friends were good men. "They were good in their jobs, they were good at home. They were parents, sons, and very dear friends that we will sorely miss. Words just cannot explain how much we wish this never took place."

He says they all thought they were far away from conflicts and the wars, but it has come to their doorstep. He breaks down again as he thinks of his friends praying at the mosque.

"When people were praying, they weren't expecting it. These are strong men that would have protected themselves and their families, but they had their backs turned. Praying. They were only praying."

He says his friends were good neighbours, employees, and business owners. "They were good people that lived a good life here, and it's a real shame that it came to an end in this way."

He says he is a proud New Zealander and the community has been shown a great deal of support by everybody in Christchurch. He says they just want to lay their loved ones to rest now.

"We want to bury who needs burying, and we want to look after the injured and the sick.

"As a community, we are determined not to let this break us. And we will persevere through this."

He says what they need most is that New Zealand shows their support for those who have lost their loved ones.

"These were all your people. Stand behind their families, stand together. Let this not divide us. Let's not let this cause cracks in our communities. We're all one.

"Support and ask about your fellow citizens, and your neighbour."