By Abdullah Al-Dani
JEDDAH — The third batch of the families of the victims of Christchurch mosques in New Zealand was received Sunday at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. The family members of the martyrs are here to perform Haj as personal guests of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.
The batch consisted of 200 men and women pilgrims who were received on arrival by Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Abdullatif Al-Asheikh who is supervising the King’s program for the Haj and Umrah.
Welcoming the guests, the minister said the Kingdom suffered greatly from terrorism which claimed many lives.
“The Kingdom was a target of terror attacks because it represents the head of the Islamic world,” he said.
Al-Asheikh said the explosions in the New Zealand mosques were an injury that harmed the entire Muslim nation and was an unjustified attack. “Terrorism does not have a nationality, color or sect,” he added.
The guests thanked the King for his noble gesture and appreciated the great services being provided by the Kingdom to the pilgrims.
The attack on worshipers at Al-Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch during Friday prayers in March sparked a global outcry.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, also wounded 49 people when he opened fire on the mosques. His trial is due to begin next year.
About 6,000 pilgrims will perform Haj this year as part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ guests program for Haj and Umrah, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
King Salman has issued directives to host 2,000 family members of Yemeni soldiers, 1,000 pilgrims from Sudan, 200 family members of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, and 1,000 family members of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.
The total number of beneficiaries of the program since its inauguration has reached 53,747 pilgrims from around the world.
By Abdullah Al-Dani