John Kirk Anderson / Staff
Aya Al-Omari speaks in the verdict on the shooting perpetrator in the mosque. Her brother Hussein was one of his 51 victims.
Ayat El Omari has been home to New Zealand for 23 years.
But that didn’t stop an older husband from harassing her in a North Canterbury store on Monday, and he repeatedly asked her if she was “born and raised” in New Zealand.
Two videos that have been shared on Twitter, and have been viewed thousands of times, show the accident at Rangiora Farmers.
Al-Omari said that she was on the makeup table with her mother, discussing the shade of lipstick in Arabic.
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“Since we’re in a pandemic, my mom does the sensible thing and tries to put lipstick on her sterilized hand, then from her hands to her lips.”
She said that an older woman standing near her turned to her husband and told him, “She shouldn’t have done that.”
Al-Omari asked her if she wanted to say something to them directly, but the woman ignored her, and instead said to her husband, “It’s okay, it won’t be long before they leave our country.”
“I had a choice after that, should I say something or just keep calm?
“There was a million things going around my head … I couldn’t believe it. I was amazed by her audacity.”
The woman asked what her problem was, and she began filming when “she asked me if I had given birth to New Zealand.”
The couple got angry, and threatened to sue her for registration, before an employee intervened.
“The Farmers staff took it very professionally … I took the guy out, then carried out our transaction and apologized profusely.”
Al-Omari said she was also grateful to other customers in the store who defended her, and for the “overwhelming” number of support messages flooding her inbox.
“My message to others is that if you see racist behavior like this happening you should call it.
“It shows solidarity, and this woman’s behavior is not well.”
She and her mother were “extremely upset” about the accident.
“It just spoils your day … We were just trying to explore a new place, it shouldn’t be this way.
“At the end of the day, we are all human, and we all have to live in peace. New Zealand is my home, and nothing can stop this from being my home, not even when my brother was killed.”
Hussein Al-Omari was martyred in the attacks at the Christ Church Mosque at Al-Nour Mosque.
Dan Gordon, the mayor of Weimacarry, said he was shocked to hear about the accident.
“I can comfortably say that Waimakariri is a welcoming community, and our residents will be horrified to hear anyone being treated in ignorance like this.”