Community grieves together

Mourning: Queenstown Muslim Community trustees Mohammed Nadeem and Ashiv Khan

Members of Queenstown’s Muslim community are in Christchurch mourning friends killed in Friday’s terror attack.

Seven people from the resort travelled north after Monday’s emotional vigil in Earnslaw Park, Queenstown, attended by more than a thousand people.

Community leader Ashiv Khan lost three friends after a gunman opened fire during Friday prayers at two Christchurch mosques – Masjid Al-Noor, in Deans Avenue, and Linwood Masjid, in Linwood Ave.

Fifty people were killed and 42 injured.

His nephew was shot in the shoulder and was in a critical condition.

“He is improving, no longer critical,” Khan told Mountain Scene yesterday from Christchurch.

“We spoke to the registered nurse and many of those in hospital are improving.”

Police began to formally release the names of the victims yesterday.

“They are returning the bodies to the families, the first funeral is today, so we are here to attend.”

Despite the brutal attack, Fijian expat Khan says the support from the community had been “overwhelming”.

“As a community we are all positive, nothing will change.

“There is only one nutcase that has done it, and hopefully this will not happen again.”

Khan, and fellow Queenstown Muslim Community trustee Mohammed Nadeem, attended Earnslaw Park’s public vigil.

Nadeem says they’ve received phone calls of support from Queenstown police and members of the community.

“At the moment we feel very secure, the community, the council down here, they’re very nice.

“We feel home, we feel safe.”

Amidst their grief there is also a glimmer of hope, as members of Queenstown’s Muslim community prepare to finally secure their own place of worship.

Khan says Queenstown had a Muslim community of about 45 to 50 people.

They’ve been searching for a property to turn into a mosque for about four years.

“Unfortunately, as you’ll be aware, the cost of properties is so high, and we were looking for somewhere in town but we couldn’t find it.”

Next week they are hoping to pay a deposit on a property on Douglas Street in Frankton, to establish a Queenstown Islamic Centre & Muslim Community Centre.

They will then be able to pray in their own space, rather than the church hall they have been using, he says.

A 28-year-old Australian man has been charged with murder, is facing further charges, and is due to appear back in court in April.