Christchurch attack: Parents interviewed at mosque cordon reveal son was a victim

Ten days after they waited anxiously at a police cordon for news, Hussein Al-Umari's parents have paid tribute to their "wonderful" son.

Hussein was one of the 50 people killed in the Christchurch terror attack. The 35-year-old was the only son of Hazim Al-Umari and Janna Ezat, who didn't know what had happened to him for hours after the shooting.

"I was confused," Janna told Newshub's National Correspondent Patrick Gower. "I just needed to know where he was. So I was floating between the truth and the dream. So confused, so confused."

Their confusion turned to sadness when Hussein's death was confirmed. But the memories of their "wonderful, gentle" son remain clear.

"Very brave," Janna says. "Very simple. Very honest. Helpful. He helped a lot."

"He was a giver," Hazim says, "and finally he gave his life - that is the last thing he was giving."

Janna Ezat and Hazim Al-Umari.
Janna Ezat and Hazim Al-Umari. Photo credit: The Project

Janna says her son gave his life to protect the Al Noor Mosque. Survivors of the shooting have sent the grieving parents video messages describing their son's final act.

"[Hussein] jumped, ran to him and then ran at him, confronting him, trying to get his gun," Janna says.

"Shouting 'This is the house of God, what are you doing here, get out," says Hazim.

Janna says her son died a hero, which is why she is "still in a good shape".

"I'm proud of him."

For that reason, she has refused to wear black, even at Hussein's funeral.

"Why would I wear black? He doesn't deserve black. No, white."

On Monday she wore one of his favourite shirts - a blue and green striped one she calls his "New Zealand shirt".

"He died as a Kiwi. But originally he is Iraqi."

Janna Ezat in her son Hussein's bedroom.
Janna Ezat in her son Hussein's bedroom. Photo credit: The Project

An interview with Janna when she was waiting for news at the cordon has been translated into Arabic and broadcast through many countries. Part of the reason is she's famous for her calligraphy. Ambidextrous, she uses both hands.

"[I was] the youngest girl in the world to get an international certificate in calligraphy," she says.

Using her talent, she created a final gift to pay tribute to Hussein - a verse from the holy Quran, commonly read when people die.

A final tribute to Hussein Al-Umari.
A final tribute to Hussein Al-Umari. Photo credit: Janna Ezat

"'From God, I am going back to God'. I do both sides, and I put my son's photo, so everybody will know that he is dead."

On that terrible day, Janna was the very image of a worried mother. Now she's the symbol of a proud one.

"Any mother should be proud of her son."


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