Pakistan-origin doctor, Dr Naeem Rashid has been honoured with the most prestigious bravery award, the New Zealand Cross. Rashid sacrificed his life to save others during the Christchurch mosque massacre in 2019. His award was received by his wife, Ambreen Naeem.
Ten people, who risked their lives to protect innocents during an attack, are awarded various bravery awards in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said, “The courage demonstrated by these New Zealanders was selfless and extraordinary. They have our deepest respect and gratitude for their actions on that day.” she added, “Each of them put their life on the line to save others. If not for their collective actions, the loss of life could have been even greater.”
On March 15, 2019, a white supremacist gunman, Brenton Tarrant killed 44 people at Al Noor Mosque during Friday prayers. The attacker went to another mosque, Linwood Mosque, and took seven innocent lives. He broadcasted the whole attack on Facebook.
Dr Naeem Rashid challenged the attacker in Al Noor Mosque, disregarding his own safety. When the gunman entered and began firing in the main prayer hall, people started to flee but Rashid ran towards him.
“In so doing, he enabled others to escape and paid the ultimate price with the loss of his own life. I want to acknowledge Dr Rashid’s wife and family particularly, who will know all too well that his acts that day were a reflection of who he was as a person,” Ardern said.
Rashid’s wife, Ambreen Naeem, expressed gratefulness while receiving an award and said, “Today we can’t see him, but he has spread his message of peace and love, all over the world.”
Another survivor, Abdul Aziz who is an Afghan refugee was also honored with the New Zealand Cross award.
He said, “It feels good, like you’ve done something good in your life.”
New Zealand also has given “New Zealand Bravery Decoration” and “New Zealand Bravery Medal” to eight people who have shown great courage to safeguard innocent lives in the Christchurch attack 2019.
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