King Salman of Saudi Arabia invited 200 survivors and relatives of New Zealand Christchurch attack for performing the holy pilgrimage, Hajj.
As a regard to the victims and their families, King Salman has entirely sponsored their visit, including airfare, accommodation and travel expenses incurring during the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
Performing the pilgrimage is imperative for all Muslims in good health, at least once in their lifetime. It takes many years for some believers to save money for the pilgrimage. Every year, over 2 million Muslims come from different parts of the world to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
According to the Saudi ambassador to New Zealand, Abdulrahman Al Suhaibani, Saudi King Salman has taken this initiative for the survivors and victims’ relatives because he was astounded by the death of 51 people during attack at two mosques by an Australian white supremacist on March 15.
One of the victims who accepted the king’s invitation was Temel Atacocugu, 44, who runs a kebab shop. He was brutally shot nine times into his mouth and other parts of the body by the gunman, yet he was lucky enough to survive.
Customarily, the Saudi Arabia king annually invites numerous people to perform the holy hajj as his own guests, selecting the most tragedy-struck people during the year. The ambassador stated that this was the first time king invited people from New Zealand.
A few days before the pilgrimage started, the ambassador Al Suhaibani visited the Christchurch to offer the plain white garments to the male pilgrims. These terry cloth garments are worn by men during the pilgrimage, as they lack the scope of adornment and represent the equality of humans before God.
Gamal Fouda, the imam at the Al Noor mosque, who has also accepted the offer of king said, “It’s a wonderful time and this is a golden chance for people to get spiritual elevation.”