Saudi king hosts 200 from Christchurch shootings for Hajj

Saudi ambassador to New Zealand bids farewell to pilgrims at the Al Noor mosque, one of two mosques where Islamophobic gunman killed 51 people in March.
Friday 26/07/2019
A Muslim pilgrim arrives at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, prior to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Atabia, July 7. (AFP)
A Muslim pilgrim arrives at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, prior to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Atabia, July 7. (AFP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Aya Al-Umari says she feels like her brother will be accompanying her and will constantly be in her prayers when she travels to Mecca next month to take part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Al-Umari is one of 200 relatives and survivors from the Christchurch mosque shootings who are traveling to Saudi Arabia as guests of King Salman.

The Saudi ambassador to New Zealand on Friday said farewell to the pilgrims at the Al Noor mosque, one of two mosques where a gunman killed 51 people in March.

Al-Umari’s 35-year-old brother Hussein was among those killed.

She says it’s an honor that King Salman is sponsoring the trips, a fact reinforced in her visa documents stating she’s traveling as a guest of the custodian of the two holy mosques.

(AP)

Aya Al-Umari wears the T-shirt that her brother, Hussein, teased her about the last time she saw him, before he was killed on March 15 in the attack at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. (AP)
Aya Al-Umari wears the T-shirt that her brother, Hussein, teased her about the last time she saw him, before he was killed on March 15 in the attack at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. (AP)
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