There's a man I know named Mohammad.

Mohammad doesn't know I'm writing this but he is, by all accounts, one of the nicest men I've ever met in my years of working as a journalist and he is truly a joy to talk to. It is beautiful souls like Mohammad that can brighten a news day, which can often become bogged down with politics, agendas, criticism and all-round negativity.

Mohammad is Muslim, not that it should matter. He is a husband, retail manager and an active member of Tauranga's community also.

Last Friday's events in Christchurch have saddened me deeply. Not only because of the obvious horror of how 50 innocents can be gunned down by so much hate and cowardice. But also because the life of an all-round good guy such as Mohammad has been turned upside down.


To see a man I have known to be gentle, friendly, engaging and overwhelmingly positive become shaken, scared and depressed is heartbreaking.

Like many other Tauranga Muslims, Mohammad is a regular at the mosque, especially on Fridays.

In a casual conversation I had with Mohammad this week, the thought process of "it could have been me" ran through his mind constantly.

Like many of us, Mohammad always expected such attacks to happen overseas, not in New Zealand. He and others could have easily been sitting ducks if the gunman had chosen Tauranga, he tells me.

This new reality that nowhere is truly safe has left Mohammad scared for his own safety as he prepared for today's prayer.

But it was the support shown from the local community this past week that has given him and his family strength. Mohammad said if it was not for the incredible aroha shown he would have struggled to cope over these past seven days.

Today, he is steeling himself to go to prayer like usual. Except it will be anything but.

A huge crowd is expected to gather this afternoon at the mosque where a thick carpet of flowers and tributes has formed. Some people will form a human chain around the mosque as Mohammad and others pray. Others will simply be there to show solidarity.


I will also be there, doing what I can in my role as a journalist, and as a human being.

I can only hope this is enough.