#TheyAreUs: World condemns deadly New Zealand mosque murders

#TheyAreUs: World condemns deadly New Zealand mosque murders
Leaders from Turkey, Pakistan, the UK and other countries strongly condemned Friday's deadly racist shootings on two mosques in New Zealand.
4 min read
15 March, 2019
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the shootings a 'terrorist attack' [Getty]
World leaders and others have shown solidarity with Muslims in New Zealand after two mass shootings in New Zealand mosques on Friday left at least 49 people dead.

"The person who has committed this violent act has no place here", said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in response to what she called a "terrorist attack" on one of her country's "darkest days".

The prime minister alluded to anti-immigrant sentiment as the possible motive behind the mass shootings, saying that while many people affected by the shootings may be migrants or refugees "they have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us".

Following Ardern's statement, #TheyAreUs began to trend on Twitter, accompanied by messages of support and love for the New Zealand Muslim community.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attacks in the city of Christchurch, calling it the "latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia".

"With this attack, hostility towards Muslims that the world has been has been idly watching and even encouraging for some time, has gone beyond the boundaries of individual harassment to reach the level of mass killing," said the president, wishing a swift recovery for the 20 people seriously wounded in the attack.

"If measures are not taken right away, news of other disasters will follow this one."

UK Prime Minister Theresa May offered her "deepest condolences", calling the devastating shootings a "terrorist attack".

"My thoughts are with all of those affected by this sickening act of violence," she tweeted.

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid blamed the attacks on "racism and anti-Muslim hatred", saying "we will not let extremists divide us".

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan stated the shootings offered proof "that terrorism does not have a religion" in a tweet in which he offered prayers to the victims and their families.

"I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam and 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim", he added.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez, EU Council president Donald Tusk, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have also been among the world politicians to condemn the attack.

A cricket match between New Zealand and Bangladesh scheduled to start on Saturday was canceled after the Bangladeshi team experienced a narrow escape from the shootings.

Players and members of the team's coaching staff were reportedly on their bus, approaching one of the mosques involved, when the shooting broke out.

"Entire team got saved from active shooters. Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers", tweeted Batsman Tamim Iqbal.

UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said: "Our collective work against violence and hate must continue with renewed vigour. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims".

Four suspects, three men and a woman, have been taken into custody by New Zealand police, one of whom is suspected to be a 28-year-old Australian citizen who claimed the attacks in a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto.

Not all world politicians have been quick to issue clear condemnations of the attacks.

"The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed fanatic Muslims to migrate to New Zealand in the first place," claimed Australian Senator Fraser Anning.

While the senator for Queensland said that "violent vigilantism" could not be justified, he blamed the attacks on Muslims and Islam, which he called a religion of "fascism" in a statement which has been the subject of strong outrage worldwide.

The man who claimed the attack offered support to US President Donald Trump in his manifesto.

"Don't give the POS NZ shooter what he wants. Don’t speak his name don’t show the footage," said the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., in a tweet which prompted uproar from Muslim figures who claimed Trump Jr.'s tweet was tantamount to asking people to forget about the shootings.

"One person, a male in his late 20s, has been charged with murder, and should appear in the Christchurch Court tomorrow morning," said New Zealand police Commissioner Mike Bush.

Arden claimed the suspects had "extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand".

Mass shootings in New Zealand are exceedingly rare. Murders are equally uncommon with only 35 murders recorded countrywide in 2017. Gun ownership however is common, with 1.2 million registered firearms in the country of 4.6 million in 2017.

Agencies contributed to this report.