Academics among victims of Christchurch mosque attacks

Universities pledge support and safety for international students

March 17, 2019
Christchurch police headquarters

Academics are among the reported victims of the horrific terrorist attack in New Zealand’s southern city of Christchurch.

According to media reports, Abdus Samad, a visiting professor at Christchurch’s Lincoln University was among the 50 casualties recorded so far from the 15 March attacks on two mosques in the city

Dr Samad, a former lecturer at Bangladesh Agricultural University, reportedly also led the call to prayer at the Al Moor Mosque where Australian gunman Brenton Tarrant is said to have begun his deadly rampage.

Fellow Lincoln academic Naeem Rashid was also among the reported casualties along with his son Talha, a recent engineering graduate. Naeem Rashid was hailed a hero after reportedly trying to overpower the gunman. He died later in hospital.

“Sadly, the university is likely to have lost members of our family,” chancellor Bruce Gemmell and acting vice-chancellor Bruce McKenzie acknowledged in a short statement posted on the university’s website.

“Our leadership team stands by its staff and students as ‘parents’ of the Lincoln University family. That family includes members from throughout New Zealand and numerous countries internationally. Be assured that the university is right beside you as you come to terms with the tragedy that has now affected the lives of all of us in New Zealand.”

Memorial services were scheduled for 18 March at Lincoln, an agriculturally focused institution on Christchurch’s outskirts, and the University of Canterbury near the city centre. Both also announced extra support for students and staff.

Canterbury vice-chancellor Cheryl de la Rey said that all tests and assignments would be cancelled until 24 March. “Special consideration and allowances will be available,” she said.

“As a university community we condemn the attacks in Christchurch and extend our solidarity and support to our students and staff.”

Universities New Zealand said that it was “deeply saddened” by the attacks. “[Our] community welcomes and celebrates diversity in staff and students,” said chair Derek McCormack.

“We stand by the Muslim community at this very difficult time. We want our international student community to know that all universities are doing everything possible to support their students and ensure campuses remain the safe places they are supposed to be.

“These attacks are not us. The love and support that will surround our students is. Please remember that.”

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