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Mosque Attack Widows Share Their Stories Of Life After March 15

On March 15 2019, dozens of women hovered in the female section of Christchurch’s Al-Noor Mosque - their time of worship became a time of terror which shocked the nation to its core.

Widows of Shuhada is a new 8-part audio documentary series produced by Plains FM for RNZ featuring four of the women left widowed by the attacks on worshippers at the Al-Noor and Linwood mosques, which claimed 51 lives.

We first meet the women - Farah, Neha, Mahubo and Hamimah - six months after the deaths of their husbands. We follow them as they move houses, try to explain to their children what happened, return to the place of their husbands’ deaths and come together as widows to share their burden of collective loss.

Their stories take us to a refugee camp in Kenya, the streets of Singapore, a mosque in Jordan and a new gun store in Christchurch.

They show how their beliefs have shaped their personal responses to the violence of that day and about the person accused of carrying out the attacks. And they remind us that at the centre of their sorrow is their belief that every person who died as a result of the attacks are martyrs – or shuhada – who are where Allah had planned for them to be and that their husbands are, in fact, the lucky ones.

Lead Producer and Series Writer Lana Hart says the women and their responses to the tragedies have had a significant impact on her view of the world.

“Their unreserved acceptance in the face of such tragedy, their fascinating and varied backgrounds, and their rich stories of aroha and faith can only make you believe in a better world.”

There are tears. But there is laughter too. As well as Arabic lessons and Somali tea.

The women share their intimate thoughts on forgiveness, gender and Islam, recovery, and building new lives without their husbands. They also discuss the New Zealand Government and wider public’s response to the attacks, their children and their pasts.

Widows of Shuhada is an authentic walk alongside four of the women most affected by the atrocities of March 15 2019. With Muslim broadcasting student Asha Abdi and Al-Noor mosque’s former Women’s Coordinator Jumayah Jones, they present fresh, compelling insights rarely heard before or since March 15.

The series will broadcast on Plains FM96.9 from the 10 -24 March and on RNZ National in the week prior to the March 15th commemoration and also be released online. The series was made possible by the RNZ/NZ On Air Innovation Fund.

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