'I love him as a person': Husband of woman slain in New Zealand mosque attack says he forgives gunman

Mr Farid Ahmed, whose wife Husna was killed in the attacks on the mosques in Christchurch, speaking to the media on March 17, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

CHRISTCHURCH (AFP) - A man whose wife was killed in the Christchurch mosque attack as she rushed back in to rescue him said he harbours no hatred towards the gunman, insisting forgiveness is the best path forward.

"I would say to him 'I love him as a person'," Mr Farid Ahmad told AFP.

Asked if he forgave the 28-year-old white supremacist suspect, he said: "Of course. The best thing is forgiveness, generosity, loving and caring, positivity."

Ms Husna Ahmed, 44, was among 50 people killed in the attack on two mosques that were packed for Friday prayers.

When the shooting started, she helped several people escape from the women's and children's hall.

"She was screaming 'come this way, hurry up', and she took many children and ladies towards a safe garden," Mr Ahmad said.

"Then she was coming back for checking about me, because I was in a wheelchair, and as she was approaching the gate, she was shot. She was busy saving lives, forgetting about herself."

Mr Ahmad, 59, who has been confined to a wheelchair since being hit by a drunken driver in 1998, believes he escaped the hail of bullets because the gunman was focused on other targets.

"This guy was shooting one person two, three times, probably that gave some time to us to move out... Even the dead, he was shooting them again."

He did not see his wife when he left the mosque and learnt of her death only after somebody photographed her body.

"Her picture was out in the social media, so somebody showed me the picture and I identified quite easily."

Mr Ahmad said if he was able to sit down with the mass murderer, he would encourage him to rethink his outlook on life.

"I will tell him that inside him he has great potential to be a generous person, to be a kind person, to be a person who would save people, save humanity rather than destroy them," he said.

"I want him to look for that positive attitude in him, and I hope and I pray he would be a great civilian one day. I don't have any grudge."

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