World leaders condemn New Zealand mosque attack
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the head of state of New Zealand, said she was deeply saddened by the shootings in Christchurch which killed at least 49 people.
“I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives,” the queen said in a statement.
“I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured. At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders.”
As governments in Asia and the Middle East scrambled to find out how many of their citizens had been caught up in the Christchurch bloodshed, there was also anger that the attackers targeted worshippers at Friday prayers.
“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 (where) 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror,” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan posted on social media.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the attack was a deliberate demonizing of Muslim political struggles.
“Not only the perpetrators, but also politicians & media that fuel the already escalated Islamophobia and hate in the West, are equally responsible for this heinous attack,” he wrote on Twitter.
In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was deeply saddened: “I mourn with the New Zealanders for their fellow citizens who were attacked and murdered out of racist hatred while peacefully praying in their mosques. We stand together against such acts of terrorism.”
The European Commission said: “This senseless act of brutality on innocent people in their place of worship could not be more opposite to the values and the culture of peace and unity that the European Union shares with New Zealand.”
Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, said Londoners stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Christchurch.
“When the flames of hatred are fanned, when people are demonised because of their faith, when people’s fears are played on rather than addressed, the consequences are deadly as we have seen so sadly today,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the attack on Twitter, saying Canadians “join New Zealanders and Muslim communities around the world in grieving.”
U.S. President Donald Trump also commented on the attack, saying “49 innocent people senselessly died.”
Norwegian Prime Mininster Erna Solberg said the attack brought back memories of 2011 in her country when anti-Muslim extremist Anders Breivik killed 77 people: “It shows that extremism is nurtured and that it lives in many places.”
More had to be done to promote the co-existence of different religions and cultures, the university said.
It was a sentiment echoed by United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash.
“Our collective work against violence and hate must continue with renewed vigor,” he said.
WATCH: EU offers condolence, Turkey blames hate speech after mosque attacks
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New Zealand police said 49 people were killed. Three men and one woman were in custody and one man had been charged with murder.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said some of the victims may have been new immigrants and refugees.
“They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand,” she said.
A city of about 400,000 people, Christchurch has a small Islamic community, including overseas students.
Indonesia’s ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya, told Reuters six Indonesians had been inside one of the mosques when the attack occurred, with three managing to escape and three unaccounted for.
There are 331 Indonesians in Christchurch, including 134 students, the foreign ministry said.
“Indonesia strongly condemns this shooting act, especially at a place of worship while a Friday prayer was ongoing,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a statement.
Afghanistan’s ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, Wahidullah Waissi, said on Twitter three Afghans had been wounded.
Two Malaysians were also wounded in the attack, its foreign ministry said.
Bangladeshi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said it was “extremely lucky” the country’s cricket team, in Christchurch for a match against New Zealand, did not suffer casualties. The players arrived for Friday prayers as the shooting started.
“I can’t even imagine what would have happened if they were there five minutes earlier,” he said on social media.
Hundreds of angry protesters in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, chanted Allahu akbar (God is Greatest) after Friday prayers.
“We will not let the blood of Muslims go in vain,” said one protester.
Ordinary people expressed their horror about a live, point-of-view video posted online showing a gunman killing any person he came across in a mosque with his semi-automatic assault rifle.
New Zealand police confirmed it had been posted by a shooter involved in the attack.
“Feeling very sick, that person is brainless and a savage,” said one Indonesian twitter user who identified himself as Farhan Adhitama.
Others complained that authorities and the media were slow to label the perpetrators as “terrorists.”
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“This is a terrorist act. Come on now,” Aszafirah Zafyrah posted on Facebook in Singapore.
“Why is it not called terrorism when Muslims are killed,” said Mohammad Hanif, a government employee in Dhaka. “You should be fair enough to call it so.”
By Friday afternoon, Ardern said the incident was a “terrorist” attack.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian national arrested after the attack was an “extremist, right wing violent terrorist.”
© 2019 Reuters