'These tears are not for you': Grieving daughter's brave message to Christchurch mosque terrorist

The daughter of a man murdered at the Al Noor mosque has delivered a powerful message to the Australian terrorist behind the Christchurch attack.

Sara Qasem during the sentencing of Brenton Tarrant at the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Sara Qasem during the sentencing of Brenton Tarrant at the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand. Source: AAP

The grieving daughter of a man murdered in the Christchurch mosque attacks has delivered a stark and inspiring message as terrorist Brenton Tarrant prepares to be sentenced for the atrocity.

Court officials planned for around 66 victims - either survivors from the mosques or family members of those killed or injured - to address the court and the gunman, who sits just five metres away separated by a glass panel.

Sara Qasem was not originally listed on the court plans but rose to speak on behalf of her father Abdelfattah, who was murdered at Al Noor mosque.

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"My name is Sara Qasem. Daughter of a hero. Daughter of a shining, glimmering man ... daughter of a martyr. Of Abdelfattah Qasem. Remember that name," she said firmly.

"My Dad never left. He could have left but he stayed behind to help his brothers. Putting others before himself."

Ms Qasem drew tears from every corner of the courtroom as she grieved for her lost father.

"I'd never really known what the meaning of a broken heart was until then," she said.

"I want to go on more road trips with him. Smell his home cooking. His cologne."

Crying, she composed herself and eyeballed the gunman, saying "these tears are not for you".



Ms Qasem finished her statement by comparing the rebuilding of her community to the Japanese art of Kintsugi, which repairs broken pottery with gold leaf.

"Our hearts may be broken ... but slowly and surely we are reassembling each crack with a lining of gold," she said.

"The gold is the love, the aroha, the New Zealand community, our friends and neighbours, the flower wall, the government.

"In the end, love wins and love will always win."

Family and survivors from the March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings line enter the Christchurch High Court for day two of the sentencing hearing.
Family and survivors from the March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings line enter the Christchurch High Court for day two of the sentencing hearing. Source: AP


After giving their contributions, victims have said they are left with a sense of relief, empowerment and strength.

"When I saw him shooting people, I was not the one in control. He was," Rosemary Omar, who lost her 24-year-old son Tariq Omar, told AAP.

"It was empowering to get some of that power back that the perpetrator took from us when he killed our son."

Rashid Omar, Rosemary's husband and Tariq's father, said he felt a full range of emotions while addressing the gunman.



"At first I was emotional reading about my sadness and loss but I gained strength. I got more angry after that," he said.

"I looked right at him, that really helped."

Mr Omar told the court he felt "broken inside".

"When I said I will never be able to forgive you, he just nodded," he said.

"I felt like I was in control. He was looking and me and I was staring back at him."

The full hearings will not be seen by the public, with Justice Cameron Mander placing restrictions on what can be broadcast and some speakers choosing not to allow recordings.

Justice Cameron Mander at the sentencing of Brenton Tarrant at the High Court in Christchurch, NZ
Justice Cameron Mander at the sentencing of Brenton Tarrant at the High Court in Christchurch, NZ. Source: AAP


The gunman has elected not to speak at the sentencing.

As part of the lengthy sentencing process, a key part of New Zealand's justice system, he was expected to give some explanation for his crimes, or offer mitigating evidence.

Instead, he signalled his intent on Wednesday to waive those rights, and standby counsel Philip Hall will instead make brief remarks on his behalf.

The gunman is set to be sentenced on Thursday.

For people in Australia, mental health support is available at supports people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.


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4 min read
Published 26 August 2020 at 1:02pm
Source: AAP, SBS