WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Aya Al-Umari says she feels like her brother will be accompanying her and will constantly be in her prayers when she travels to Mecca next month to take part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Al-Umari is one of 200 relatives and survivors from the Christchurch mosque shootings who are traveling to Saudi Arabia as guests of King Salman.
The Saudi ambassador to New Zealand on Friday said farewell to the pilgrims at the Al Noor mosque, one of two mosques where a gunman killed 51 people in March.
Al-Umari’s 35-year-old brother Hussein was among those killed.
She says it’s an honor that King Salman is sponsoring the trips, a fact reinforced in her visa documents stating she’s traveling as a guest of the custodian of the two holy mosques.