The first funeral was held Wednesday morning in Christchurch, in memory of the victims of the terrorist attack that left 50 dead and many injured last Friday in New Zealand.
At least two victims were buried at Memorial Park Cemetery.
These include two Syrian refugees: Hamza Mustafa, 15, and his father, Khalid, 44. They had arrived in New Zealand six months before. Injured in the leg, Hamza’s brother, Zaed, attended the funeral.
A marquee has been set up at the scene of the tragedy, in which there is a space for families, according to Jocelyn Ritchie, spokesman for the city council.
After a moment of prayer, the family and friends of the deceased carried the bodies to the grave. They then threw handfuls of earth as farewells.
The first ceremonies follow requests from grieving families who, according to Muslim custom, wish to bury their dead as soon as possible.
However, funerals have been postponed because of the slow process of identification and forensic investigations.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said Wednesday morning that 21 victims have been identified and their bodies are ready to be returned to families.
The police promised to carry out their task as quickly as possible as dozens of victims’ families arrive from around the world to Christchurch for the funeral.
Javed Dadabhai, who came from Auckland to bury his cousin, explained that relatives had been warned by the authorities that “the process would be very slow, very exhaustive”.
“Some families have been invited to visit theirs […], who are the easiest to recognize. But we are talking about three or four families, “he said. “The majority of people still have not had the opportunity to see their loved ones. “
For Mohamed Safi, a 23-year-old Afghan refugee, whose father Matiullah died at the Al-Nour mosque, these delays are inconceivable. He begs the authorities to let him identify his father.
They say they do their procedure. But what procedure? Why do not I know what you do to identify the body? Why am I not contacted as a direct close?
According to a list that circulates among the families, the victims were aged 3 to 77 years. Many were native to the region, but others were from distant lands, such as Egypt or Jordan.
According to Christchurch Hospital, 29 people injured in the attack are still receiving treatment, and eight of them are in critical condition.
Phyllis Reddon is a general assignment reporter at Rise Media. She has covered sports, entertainment and many other beats in her journalism career, and has lived in New York for more than 6 years. Phyllis has appeared periodically on national television shows and has been published in (among others) Yahoo News,, Politico, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Wired.com, Vice and Salon.com.