Wife of Zekeriya Tuyan, who was murdered in the Christchurch mosque massacre, spoke at the sentencing of the gunman
The victim impact statements of those bereaved by the Christchurch mosque attacks have told of shattered lives and unimaginable loss. Hamimah Tuyan’s husband died nearly seven weeks after the attacks, having endured many surgeries. She told the court of the impact of his loss on her and their young sons.
‘How do I, their mum, console their aching hearts?’
My name is Hamimah Tuyan. I am the widow of Zekeriya Tuyan, the 51st of the martyrs.
No amount of money can bring back the father of my sons and my husband.
I am now forced to figure out how to forge ahead on my own.
I miss my husband’s cooking, his lame “dad” jokes, his light snores in the night, the look that can calm me down.
He was my Imam, my bodyguard, my entertainer, my problem solver, my comforter, my best friend.
You put bullets into my husband and he fought death – 48 days, 18 surgeries – until his last breath.
His status then was uplifted to martyr, from hero, and for me, from wife to the martyr’s widow.
My eldest son has only five years’ worth of memories with his father.
My wee one, much less; not enough.
He asked: “Oumi, why did he kill my Baba?”
You see his father is someone who would not even kill a menacing spider on his bedroom wall.
His friends asked: “Why does his mother pick him up every day instead of his father. Where is his father?”
How would a five-year-old answer that? That his Baba was killed by a man who was radicalised, ignorant and picked and chose from history in order to justify killing innocent people, instead of suiting up and fighting the real enemy.
My son, the elder one, asked: “Oumi is he Isis?”
You think of the answer for that. I know we all know the answer for that. There’s no difference between you and Isis. You both picked and chose the wrong team; do the wrong thing.
To help my children understand I explain to them that the ignorant man, the radicalised man, is pretty much like that boy in their preschool who doesn’t know how to play with other children, who doesn’t speak the same language as them. And so he gets feared. He feared that these other children, the others, would take away their toys. And so he communicates and expresses his fear by hitting them first. My boy got that.
I see the longing in my sons’ eyes as they watch other boys holding hands, tumbling on the grass, reading books, building Legos with their fathers.
How do I, their mum, console their aching hearts?
You see, my sons loved their Baba so much that they will jump on him every day to greet him. They will hug him. They will plant kisses all over him. Every day. It’s like as if they have not seen him for a thousand years. Every day.
Now their Baba will not be here to celebrate their future successes, nor be by their sides to support them and comfort them in their times of defeat. They will not have their Baba to lead them by example and who will impart in them the values of hard work, courage, good judgment and, most importantly, respect for life.
What am I going to say next? You would have heard them many, many times, over and over from my beloved brothers and sisters. But I feel that it is important for me to repeat and reinforce it, for you to hear, for me to remember and for my brothers and sisters as well.
God says in the Qur’an whoever kills one innocent soul, it is as if he has killed the entire mankind.
And you killed 51. They left behind 34 spouses, 92 children and more than a hundred siblings who now have to endure the life sentence of being without their loved ones.
You admitted guilt to 40 counts of attempted murder – defenceless men, women and children as they were praying peacefully in their mosques.
And on top of that you have pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge.
Your heinous acts brought thousands of New Zealanders and millions of international communities together in solidarity with us, the affected families and survivors, and in vehemently denouncing your white-supremacist ideology.
Within months New Zealand’s MPs voted to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons and our prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, launched the Christchurch Call to eliminate extremist content online, backed by many countries including the one that you come from, as well as tech giants like Facebook, Google and so on.
What I have just said might as well have been in your victim impact statement, because we are the survivors. I feel like you are the victim here.
So let this be a lesson for you and for your sympathisers and your supporters.
Let you be a lesson for your sympathisers and your supporters.
Listening to the prosecutor read out the detailed account of your act led me to this verse in the Qur’an from chapter 40 of verse 26. I think you would have read it because you seem to know a lot of Islam, you wouldn’t have missed the story about Pharoah and Moses.
Pharaoh said: “Let me kill Moses and let him call his Lord to try and stop me from doing it, to try and stop me, Pharaoh, from killing. I fear that he may change your religion or that he may create mischief in this land.”
Think about it. That’s pretty much your ideology, right? You wanted to kill the Muslims in my community at least and you challenge us and our Lord Allah and our Prophet probably because you fear that we may change the belief of your people and create mischief in what you think is your land.
That’s your ideology. The bully. The Pharaoh. The terrorist. Violence. Fear. Arrogance.
But here is what Moses said, Moses representing us the Muslim community here: “Indeed I have sought refuge in my Lord and your Lord from every arrogant one who does not believe in the day of judgment.”
You wanted to instil fear in us, but think about it. It was your fear and your arrogance that has been the reason for why you are here, there, in the dock and I’m here standing talking to you, being the voice of my husband.
Your honour, there is a community of heroes and only 51 martyrs. He belongs to neither.
He deserves not a life imprisonment of 17, 20, 25 or 30 years, but a life imprisonment until his last gasp, his last breath.
He does not deserve credit for his guilty plea. Surely a heartless murderer cannot expect to gain any benefit from this.
It will be grave injustice, your honour, if he should ever be given a second chance to walk in society again.
The beautiful souls that he murdered, they do not get a second chance.
He does not deserve the privilege of living free again amongst us peace-loving people of the society.
I have faith that on judgment day, justice will be served and that his punishment will represent the people of New Zealand’s repulsion for and denunciation of murder and evil, racist, white-supremacist ideology.