AMMAN: “One of the reasons I decided to live in New Zealand is that they don’t pay attention to who you are, and they treat you as a human being. You can do what you want.” These are the words of 36-year-old Jordanian Wasseim Alsati, a barber who made Christchurch his home.
He is injured and his three-year old daughter Leen is fighting for her life after a massacre at two mosques killed 49 people and injured dozens on Friday.
Wasseim’s friends in Amman said he wanted to excel, but that Jordan was too small for him and his ambitions. Sati Abdel Razaq, Wasseim’s father, told Arab News that five years ago his son closed his shop in the capital and left for greener pastures.
“This person had Western attitudes and he was sure his future was not in Jordan. He would always tell me his rosy dreams about becoming a great hairdresser,” Usama Jeetawi told Arab News. “Every time I would come for a haircut, he would show me his latest innovations and he would say, ‘I wish I could get to a place where I could show off my talent.’ I tried to help find him a place with Amman’s leading hair stylists, but without much success.”
Razaq told Arab News his son was getting better “but three-year-old Leen is still in critical condition after receiving three bullets to the body.”
Friends of Wasseim launched an appeal on Facebook, hoping to raise $25,000 to help the family. By Saturday $13,000 had been raised.
Wasseim is one of eight Jordanians who were injured in the terrorist attack. The Associated Press reported Saturday that four Jordanians had been killed.
One of those who died was engineer Ata Alyyan. His father, Dr. Mohammad Alyyan, founded Al-Noor Mosque, which was one of the mosques targeted by the gunman.
Family member Saed Azzam told Arab News that the father left for New Zealand 25 years ago and that the son studied computer engineering.
Father and son set up a firm, A & B Educational Consultancy, in 2007 to help Arab students wishing to study in New Zealand.
Khaled Haj Mustafa was a Syrian who lived in Jordan. He fled the brutal war in Syria and was involved in equestrianism, a profession many in Jordan remembered him for, only to be killed in a Christchurch mosque while praying.
A Jordanian ministry spokesman, Sufian Qudah, earlier announced the death of three Jordanians and said a team was working round the clock to communicate with families in Jordan and New Zealand. A Foreign Ministry envoy, Ahed Sweidat, was also dispatched to liaise with local authorities on the investigation and to arrange the repatriation of the bodies.
Tareq Khoury, a Jordanian MP, said the attack was proof that “Daesh is alive and well in the minds of the leaders of the US ... as well as other Western leaders.”
Sami Awad, executive director of the Holy Land Trust, said that the person who carried out the attack was not alone in his belief system or crazy.
“He is an extreme version of millions if not billions who believe the color of their skin, their religion, or ‘way of life’ is better than other people’s and commit violence in their hearts and minds. Let us not kid ourselves. This is a global phenomenon and epidemic,” he told Arab News.
• With input from Mohammad Ersan