New Zealand mosque massacre sparks global horror

The world reacted with horror to the New Zealand mosque attacks.

The world reacted with horror to the New Zealand mosque attacks.
AFP/Tessa Burrows


ON THE WEB, 16 March 2019

Attacks on two mosques in New Zealand which left at least 49 people dead on Friday — the Muslim day of prayer — have sparked horror, revulsion and dismay around the world.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the massacre in the city of Christchurch was clearly a “terrorist attack” and described it as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

Here is a summary of global reactions.

Horrible massacre

“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the mosques,” US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter as his spokeswoman denounced it as a “vicious act of hate”.

Muslims face mass killing

“With this attack, hostility towards Islam that the world 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 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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

Depraved and despicable

“Murder of people at prayer, in their most holy and sacred place, is a depraved and despicable act. For people of all religions and of none, a red line has been crossed,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wrote on Twitter.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said Israel “mourns the wanton murder of innocent worshippers in Christchurch and condemns the brazen act of terror.”

And Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas described it as a “horrific and heinous criminal act”, the official WAFA news agency said.

Painful memories

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg urged the international community to combat all forms of extremism, saying the Christchurch attacks revived painful memories of the 2011 mass killings by rightwing extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

“It recalls painful memories of our own experience with July 22, the most difficult moment in the post-war period in Norway.”

Not in my daughter’s name

The mother of an 11-year-old Swedish girl killed in a 2017 jihadist attack expressed shock after the New Zealand gunman said one of his motivations was to avenge her death.

The attack “goes against everything Ebba stood for,” Jeanette Akerlund told Swedish public television SVT.

Another person flagged by the Christchurch shooter was Luca Traini, an Italian jailed for 12 years over six non-fatal racist shootings in 2018, whose name was reportedly engraved on one of the guns.

But Traini’s lawyer Gianluca Giulianelli told Italian radio his client “would certainly distance himself from this tragedy… because he has… a strong feeling of repentance for what he did.”

Odious but not my fault

Writing on Twitter, Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini condemned the attacks but also said he pitied those who would blame him for the bloodshed.

“Massacre in #NewZealand, condemnation and utter contempt for the odious murderers, prayers for the innocent victims, compassion for those who say ‘it’s always Salvini’s fault’,” he tweeted.

Elsewhere, Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders, who is known for his outspoken anti-Islam views, said such violence was never acceptable.

“These are shocking images. It is always sick to see people use violence, whoever you are and whatever you may think,” he told public broadcaster NPO.

“You never use violence… This is simply inhuman.”

Prayers, solidarity with Muslims

At Friday prayers in Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque, Grand Mufti Muhammad Ahmad, the city’s highest Muslim authority, urged worshippers to hold special prayers for the victims of the attacks.

And in Rome, Pope Francis assured “all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity,” saying he was deeply saddened by such a “senseless acts of violence.”

And Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, New Zealand’s head of state, sent condolences to those touched by the “appalling events” in Christchurch, saying her “thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders.”

Increased patrols

London’s Metropolitan police stepped up “reassurance patrols around mosques” and increased its contact with “with communities of all faiths,” offering advice on how people and places could protect themselves.

Australian police in New South Wales also increased patrols around mosques as a precaution.

Shocking cruelty

Indonesian President Joko Widoyo, head of the world’s largest Muslim country, said “we strongly condemn these kinds of violent acts,” while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi denounced the bloodshed as a “dastardly attack.”

“An attack against peaceful people gathering for prayer is shocking in its cruelty and cynicism,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressing hope that those responsible would “be severely punished.”

“Harrowing news from New Zealand overnight,” said EU Council president Donald Tusk, denouncing it as a “brutal attack” but one which would never “diminish the tolerance and decency that New Zealand is famous for.”

Racist hatred

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she mourned for those “attacked and murdered out of racist hatred while peacefully praying” while French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the “odious attack” and Britain’s Theresa May denounced it as a “sickening act of violence.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said his thoughts were with those affected by the attacks of “fanatics and extremists who want to destroy our societies”.

UN minute of silence

“The murderous, Islamophobic, terrorist attack is yet another reminder that racism kills,” said UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet as the Human Rights Council observed a minute of silence during a session on combatting extremist ideologies.

UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said bloodshed “motivated by hatred and fear of others” was “deeply shocking.”

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