Survivors and families of the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks say the Duke of Cambridge’s visit has brought them great comfort in their time of suffering.
About 160 members of the Muslim community turned out to meet William at the Al Noor mosque in the city, where just weeks earlier 42 people were shot dead by a terrorist.
Among those to meet the duke were people who had lost loved ones, some who had helped save lives and others who were injured in the attack.
Madina Nabi, whose father Haji Dauod Nabi was killed inside the mosque, said the duke’s visit had “made us feel important”.
“The fact that he came all the way here to just support us, it’s a very kind thing to do,” she said. “We really appreciate what he’s done.”
The 26-year-old told of her devastation at learning her father had died, having faced an agonising wait to discover whether he was among the victims.
“It was the most difficult moment of my life,” she said.
But she added that she was “very proud” of her father after being told he had stayed inside the mosque to help others.
“People tell me ‘he saved our lives’,” she said. “He was like that as a person. As soon as I heard there was a shooting, I knew he would not have run away.”
Ms Nabi had the opportunity to meet William at the mosque, and said he had known about her father straight away.
“He was really lovely to us. He had seen my father in the news so as soon as he saw us he knew which family we were,” she said.
William leaves the Al Noor mosque after a moving speech to the gathered Muslim community pic.twitter.com/F2SmRO5I9b
— Ellie Cullen (@EllieCullenPA) April 25, 2019
Mohammad Siddiqui, 59, who was shot in the arm as he tried to flee from the gunman, was also among those gathered at the mosque to greet the duke.
Recalling last month’s attack, he said: “The moment I ran outside he was there. I called my wife and she asked how I was. As soon as I said I was fine I was shot.”
Daughter Alisha Siddique told how she had received a phone call from her mother telling her her father had been shot.
“It was very frightening. I drove here (to the mosque) as quickly as I could,” she said. “Someone offered to take me to the hospital and I just stayed there.
“When I realised it was Friday, and there would be so many people at the mosque, that’s when it really hit me.”
"Extremism in all its forms must be defeated.
The message from Christchurch and the message from Al Noor and Linwood mosques could not be more clear: the global ideology of hate will fail to divide us." — The Duke of Cambridge pic.twitter.com/hwG3QU4MFa
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 26, 2019
Praising the duke’s “wonderful” speech, she added: “It was nice to know we have been supported but also that we have shown what it means to be a community, with everyone coming together.
“Often you just think about the people who have died, but the ones left behind are the ones who are suffering.”