Syrian refugee father, son laid to rest as New Zealand burials start

A Syrian refugee and his son who fled their homeland only to meet tragedy in New Zealand were buried Wednesday (March 20th) in the first funerals of those killed in the mosque massacres, AFP reported.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at a cemetery in the city of Christchurch to lay to rest Khalid Mustafa and his 15-year-old son Hamza, who were among 50 people slaughtered at two mosques by an Australian white supremacist.

The family of five had fled to New Zealand seeking sanctuary, a bitter irony that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called "gutting".

"I cannot tell you how gutting it is to know that a family came here for safety and for refuge, and they should have been safe here," Ardern said.

Khalid, 44, and Hamza were killed at Al-Noor Mosque, the first site to be attacked. Hamza’s younger brother, Zaid, 13, was injured in the attack and attended the funeral in a wheelchair.

Muslims praying in front of one of the mosques were protected Wednesday evening by locals in a display of solidarity.

Throughout the last five days small groups of Muslims have held evening prayers in front of Al-Noor mosque. But on Wednesday, as they prayed and prostrated, dozens of locals silently stood behind them, their arms interlinked.

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