Miraculously, the only left signs on Atacocugu as one of Christchurch massacre’s victims are the scars from the nine bullets fired at him aimlessly last March.
Coming so close to death nearly five months ago in Christchurch massacre, he feels he’ll be “reborn” during the next week’s hajj journey, with which he wants to express gratitude to God for being given the chance for a new life, Daily Star reported on August 7.
Psychologically, the massacre’s recurring images that Atacocugu find hardest to cope with are the terrorist’s face, the puff of gun smoke, as well as the Muslim worshippers falling as they tried to escape.
The Muslim man couldn’t eat for a week and couldn’t walk for three weeks. After several surgeries, he’s started to walk unassisted and get some use from his left hand.
However, Atacocugu has more surgeries ahead after Hajj and is being helped in the pilgrimage by his 21-year-old nephew, who is traveling with him.
The 44-year-old kebab shop co-owner is among 200 Muslim survivors and victims’ relatives from the Christchurch massacre who are traveling to Makkah as guests.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform Hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Gamal Fouda, the imam at Al-Noor mosque, one of the two mosques that were attacked during the massacre, believes Hajj would be a healing chance for victims.
“Hajj is a wonderful time and this is a golden chance for people to get spiritual elevation.”
He added, “the memories of the shooting remain fresh in everybody’s minds and his mosque hasn’t yet returned to normal.”
Hajj consists of several rituals, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Hajj 2019 will commence on Friday, 9th of August 2019 and will continue till Wednesday, 14th of August 2019; in the evening time.
Fouda says that while he has been to Makkah before, he has never been there during the Hajj, so it will be a special journey for him as well.
“I will pray for God to forgive my sins because every human is sinful,” he said.
“And I’ll also pray for the peace of the world. Peace for the people of Christchurch. Peace for the people of New Zealand. And peace for the whole world. We ask God that we find a better world than we live in, rather than spreading hate,” he continued.