Mar 222019
 March 22, 2019  Posted by at 11:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leaves after the Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva



Dani Lebo is the wife of Nelson Lebo III, a regular contributor at the Automatic Earth. They are two Americans who have settled in Whanganui on the North Island of New Zealand. Whanganui is over 600 km (400 miles) from Christchurch on the South Island, but that is where Dani found herself last Friday, in the park next to the mosque where most of the victims fell. This is what she wrote about that.

Dani and Nelson named their son after a Neil Diamond song.


Dani Lebo with son Suleiman


Dani Lebo: A week after my son was born, I come across his name in an article in the New York Times. I catch my breath. He is a young man. He is describing the scene after a bomb tore through his village in Afghanistan. He is terrified, he says. He doesn’t know where to sleep. I don’t sleep that night either.

A year and a half later I see my son’s name in our local paper. He arrived six weeks ago from Syria. His brother and sister were killed by a bomb that woke him in the night. He is 5 years old and has already witnessed more tragedy than I will ever see in my lifetime.

Today I say my son’s full name as he giggles and throws himself into my arms. I sing the song that he was named for. He laughs. His shaggy golden hair covers his blue eyes.

“His name means ‘peace’,” I once justified to a Plunket nurse who didn’t even attempt to pronounce it. For some reason I felt the need to explain away her unwillingness to engage in something she saw as “different” or “too hard”. It is uncommon here, but common in the Muslim world. My son shares his name with millions of boys – millions of Muslim boys. Their mothers also named them “peace”.


People gathered to mourn at Hagley Park, Christchurch, last weekend. Photo Michael Craig


And then there I was sitting on the floor of a potting shed in Hagley Park on Friday, March 15, thinking about how relieved I was that my Suleiman, my laughing, smiling, joy of a boy was nowhere near me. Relieved that my Suleiman was safe at home – protected from this scene by 627km and the colour of his skin. And while I was sitting there feeling that relief I was so acutely aware that just a few hundred metres away sat a mother who was, in that very moment, watching her own son die.

In my head I know I was safe that day, but I’m having trouble telling my mind that.

Although I was very close to the shooting, I was never a target. I have run through a few hundred scenarios in my head where the day ends differently – the gunman’s car doesn’t start and he escapes on foot through the park – or he returns to the police cordon after the initial shooting – or his hatred is just slightly less predictable and he decides to spread his terror in a more random direction.

In each of these scenarios he comes to the shed where we were waiting. I try to dismiss these thoughts as quickly as they come, but they are wearing me down. They are wearing me down and I wasn’t even in any real danger. I heard no shots. I saw no blood. My Suleiman was far far away.

I almost didn’t write this column because people are feeling fatigued by this story, by this grief. I am feeling fatigued by my story, by my grief. But I want to let you know how I am feeling. Because you might be feeling this way too one day.

On Friday I spent four hours sitting in a shed in Hagley Park surrounded by uncertainty and fear. Like hundreds of others I waited tensely within blocks of the shooting not knowing exactly where and what was happening.

The fear and sadness and rage I am experiencing this week has given me a glimpse, the smallest tiniest of understanding, of what it would be like to exist in a world of uncertainty and fear.

The world where a man sits near the window when he prays because he is certain that one day he will need to use it as an escape route. And then he does. The world where children are trained in lockdown procedures. The world that our Muslim friends, our black friends, our Chinese friends walk in every day.

My experience that day wasn’t exceptional, and to me that’s an exceptional comment on the state of the world.



• Dani Lebo has a background in international relations and education. She runs The ECO School, an organisation dedicated to accessible sustainability education.





Home Forums His Name Means Peace

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Author
  • #46186

    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leaves after the Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 22,
    [See the full post at: His Name Means Peace]


    Great article, tapping a complex set of feelings as one reads it. I read it several times. Love the photo of Dani and Suleiman. Thanks for that!



    I’m sitting here wondering why not a thousand more people have said just that. Why you were the first to comment.

    Ex-Goldman Sachs economist Nomi Prins sent me a mail saying: “This is extremely moving. Thank you for sharing it”.

    And I replied: “It’s the perfect example of how a small and fragile brush can paint an entire huge global canvas.”

    Is it a gender issue? Is it Dani and Nomi both being women? Is it because I had the time to read it multiple times before publishing it? While I was getting the photos together, and listening to Neil Diamond?

    I don’t know. I think it’s impressive, I know that. And there’s no need to make it more than that. Too fragile.

    V. Arnold

    I’m sitting here wondering why not a thousand more people have said just that. Why you were the first to comment.

    Well, some of us were asleep when you posted this.
    A well done, if heartbreaking essay…
    As to the why’s? I have no idea.


    Yes, a touching article, and thank you for posting it.

    As a local Christchurch resident, I was astounded at the number of posts on various websites (including, alas, one on this website I think) that were made by people who believe the whole thing was a false-flag “staged event”.

    A lot of the posted trash seems to have originated from the “US Gun lobby”.

    Just to clarify, the NZ Goverrnment has not banned guns; it is moving to ban semi-automatics and military-style assault weapons. Our government fully recognises and accepts the need for farmers, pest-control contractors and others to retain and use guns.

    The ban on semi-automatics and assault-style weapons will need more work to be done around classification issues but at present the intention is for some kind of government buyback scheme to be implemented.

    I am still seeing reports from ill-informed posters on sites like ZeroHedge that there was more than one gunman. the NZ police and pretty much everyone else in this country believe that the killings at both sites were carried out by the same person. They also believe that he was on his way to a third site when his car was rammed off the road by two brave “country cops” who then dragged him out of his car and arrested him, at considerable danger to themselves. They could have shot him dead in his car but chose not to. There were reports that the terrorist’s car had two improvised explosive devices attached to it. These two police in particular are heroes in the opinion of many of us. Overall, the police and the amulance services performed suberbly professionally in all respects in what was clearly an on-going and dangerous situation.

    There were other heroic events. One in particuar is worth mentioning: A locally well-known Muslim who undoubtedly saved lives at the second mosque by grabbing the neaerst thing on hand as he rushed out his shop door to chase away the terrorist – an eftpos machine of all things. He threw this at the terrorist, then picked up the gun that the terrorist had dropped used it to break the windscreen of the car in which the terorist was fleeing the scene.

    I know this all sounds very differnt from the screeds if ill-informed, ignorant, one-eyed ramblings that have been posted by commenters on some overseas web sites – Zero Hedge in particular.

    What seems to be missing in so many of the comments that I have read with increasing anger over the past week is a complete lack of understanding of, and a total lack of empathy for the victims and their relatives. I was bought up to show respect for the dead, as were many others in this country. There seems to be nothing of this left in some communities if the comments on some of blogs are anything to go by. instead there seems to be a prevailing attitude that “we have the right to choose for ourselves what we watch on the internet.” The rights of others, far less fortunate than themselves, is apparently irrelevant to their way of thinking.

    V. Arnold


    Fortunately Ilargi doesn’t censor posters.
    I’m familiar with the comment/s you refer to; it’s part of commenting and illustrates a type of thinking I do not ascribe to.
    I do wish New Zealander’s well and a quick healing…
    I’m originally from the U.S (no longer reside there).; the mass murder capital of the planet, so I do sympathize.


    What has intrigued me is that in Australia the morning news on ABC Radio and the evening news on SBS TV has been led by the tragedy in New Zealand, every day since it happened (9 days now), even when there has been absolutely no news to report. I spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting these Government-funded news services with the non-MSM, and this overwhelming splurge is definitely unusual. Today there is a General Election in New South Wales (polls suggest it’s neck-and neck), so that should see an end to this record media blitz, unless NZ Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, is assassinated by Islamic terrorists in Turkey.

    Yesterday it was revealed that the Security Services’ Anti-Hate Squad consists of only 1 fully assigned person, so it is not surprising that the Anti-Hate Squad didn’t pick up on Brendon Tarrant.


    To V. Arnold.

    Thank you, I appreciate that.

    Here is just one link to a local news website. One of many stories concerning just one of the victims who survived.

    I encourage everyone who is seriously interested in what REALLY happened (as opposed to the misinformation promulgated by the paranoid conspiracy theorists out there and their deluded misinterpretations of the facts) to spend a few minutes of their time browising this and other local news-sites.

    There is a videoclip of the arrest of the terrorist out there somewhere. (Sorry, I just don’t have the time to track it down at the moment). It was shot on the cellphone of a driver who happened to be passing by at the time. There is also a vast amount of other information out there, for anyone who is interest in the truth about the events as they unfolded. Our local and National TV and radio ran non-stop news bulletins over the day’s events. Much of it was really harrowing stuff.

    On the positive side, the outpouring of sympathy, empathy and love shown by thousands of NZers of all ages and all religions for our Muslim community was a sight to behold.

    I find it almost unbelievable that many of the comments posted on some of the ‘conspiracy-theory oriented overseas websites can be so utterly ignorant and ill-informed.

    – M

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.