Muslim community 'relieved' at gunman's guilty plea

Christchurch’s Muslim community is relieved the man who killed 51 people and injured 40 others in two of the city’s mosques on March 15 last year, has pleaded guilty to all charges.

The guilty pleas were lodged in the High Court in Christchurch on Thursday, where the imams from the two mosques represented the victims and their families.

The Imam of An-Nur mosque on Deans Ave Gamal Fouda said the guilty pleas were completely unexpected and a shock.

“It is a relief for me personally and for many in our communities. We continue to stand with the families who lost their loved ones and hope today brings them some relief too.

“I am relieved we will not have to endure a long and stressful trial – many of the victims were dreading reliving their trauma by having to re-tell their stories in court and possibly be questioned on them,” he said.

One of the lawyers assisting the families, Aarif Rasheed, said he and they have not been told what sparked the unexpected guilty pleas.

“Any possible explanations are speculative but we do know terrorists are often seeking a sense of self-importance and attention to their cause. The COVID-19 pandemic has removed that,” said Mr Rasheed.

Mr Rasheed said it is important the victims’ pain is not forgotten.

“They are still having to find their own way to recover and survive. The pandemic makes this an even lonelier and even more painful process.”

Mr Fouda said there will be huge interest in the sentencing.

This will be held after COVID-19 lockdown has ended.

Said Mr Fouda: “That man has caused immeasurable pain and suffering, not just for Christchurch’s Muslim community but for all New Zealanders. Together we’ve had to deal with the pain of this happening in our country, it is now up to our justice system to decide his punishment.”

 

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