Hamimah Ahmat, a speech and language therapist at Singapore’s government hospital, was completely unprepared for what she saw when she logged onto Facebook that ominous Friday morning (15 March 2019). News of the tragic shootings that took place at two New Zealand mosques was the first thing to pop before her eyes.
Her Turkish husband, Zekeriya Tuyan is an information technology (IT) worker in Christchurch and he patronizes one of the mosques there every Friday for prayers. Ms Hamimah tried to contact him but to no avail. only to eventually receive a devastating call that Mr Tuyan was one of the dozens wounded during the mass shooting at the Al Noor Mosque.
Ms Hamimah wasted no time in flying down with their two young sons to the Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand where her husband was rushed to in critical condition and is recovering slowly in the hospital’s intensive care unit. Their relatives from Turkey gathered in the waiting room to lend their support to the family’s misfortune.
In spite of their long-distance marriage, the family makes an effort to get together during the school holidays in June and December. They also kept in touch frequently through Skype, where Mr Tuyan would teach his sons the Quran and discuss travel plans. Little did they know that their lives would change forever after their last Skype call that Thursday evening.
The gunman behind the killings was 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a suspected white supremacist. Prior to the attack, he published a “manifesto” online denouncing immigrants as “invaders” and proceeded to stream live footage of the attacks at two New Zealand mosques.
About 50 worshippers were shot dead while more than 40 others were wounded before authorities managed to nab Tarrant and charge him with murder the following day.