The world reacts to New Zealand mosque attacks
15 March 2019| 07 Rajab 1440| Al Jazeera
Political and religious leaders from across the world have expressed their condemnation at the deadly shooting at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Forty-nine people were killed and at least 48 suffered serious injuries in the shootings targeting the mosques during Friday prayers.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the shootings appeared to be a well-planned “terrorist attack”.
Police said three men and a woman were in custody in connection with the attacks.
The timing of the shootings and the posting on social media of what appeared to be live, point-of-view video footage of the assault by a gunman, added to the distress of many.
Here is how political leaders around the world reacted soon after the incident.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the deadly attack on the mosques, describing them as “the latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.”
“With this attack, hostility towards Islam, that the world has been idly watching and even encouraging for some time, has gone beyond individual harassment to reach the level of mass killing,” Erdogan said at the funeral of a former Turkish minister.
“It is clear that the understanding represented by the killer that also targets our country, our people and myself, has started to take over Western societies like a cancer.”
Erdogan’s spokesman separately condemned what he called a “racist and fascist” attack.
“This attack shows the point which hostility to Islam and enmity to Muslims has reached,” Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.
“We have seen many times Islamophobic discourse against Islam and Muslims turning into a perverse and murderous ideology. The world must raise its voice against such discourse and must say stop to Islamophobic fascist terrorism,” he said.
US President Trump sent out a 270 character Tweet but failed to mention the word Muslims when condemning the deadly shootings.
Instead, he sent his “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to the people of the country.
“49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The US stands by New Zealand for anything we can do,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Earlier, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the US strongly condemned the attack.
“The United States strongly condemns the attack in Christchurch. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate,” Sanders said.
According to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, a Jordanian man was among those killed and five other Jordanian nationals have been injured in the attack.
“This heinous massacre is an appalling terrorist crime. It unites us against extremism, hatred and terrorism, which knows no religion,” Jordan’s King Abdullah said.
Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Jubran Bassil warned against the rise of extremism in the West, saying it puts “communities at great risk and in direct confrontation that will only lead to the scourge of war.”
Egypt said it stands by New Zealand and the families of the victims, and condemned “the despicable act of terrorism that goes against all principles of humanity and serves as a new reminder of the need to continue and intensify international efforts to fight terrorism, violence and extremism.”
Qatar said it condemned in the strongest terms the “terrorist and brutal attack” in New Zealand.
In a statement on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Qatar reiterated its firm stance on rejecting violence and terrorism, regardless of motives and reasons.
Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, strongly condemned the shooting as authorities were checking on whether any of its citizens were victims.
“The government and the people of Indonesia convey deep condolences to the victims and their families,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a statement.
She was earlier cited by media as saying six Indonesians had been inside the mosque when the attack occurred, with three managing to escape and three still unaccounted for.
In Muslim-majority Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the biggest party in its ruling coalition, said one Malaysian had been wounded in the attack he described as a “black tragedy facing humanity and universal peace”.
“I am deeply saddened by this uncivilised act, which goes against humanistic values and took the lives of civilians,” he said in a statement.
“We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims and the people of New Zealand.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed the New Zealand attacks on rising Islamophobia after 2001’s September 11 attacks.
“Shocked and strongly condemn the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attack on mosques. This reaffirms what we have always maintained: that terrorism does not have a religion. Prayers go to the victims and their families,” he tweeted.
“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam & 1.3 bn Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim. This has been done deliberately to also demonize legitimate Muslim political struggles,” he added.
Afghanistan’s ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, Wahidullah Waissi, said on Twitter three Afghans had been wounded.
“My thoughts are with the family of Afghan origin who’ve been shot and killed at this heinous incident.”
Organization of Islamic Cooperation
The Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the attack “served as a further warning on the obvious dangers of hate, intolerance, and Islamophobia.”
OIC’s Secretary General, Youssef al-Othaimeen, urged the New Zealand government to provide more protection to Muslim communities living in the country.
Al-Azhar, the world’s foremost Sunni Islamic institution and university, said the attacks reflects an “escalation of the discourse of hate, xenophobia and Islamophobia” in Western countries.
Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of the Cairo-based institution, condemned “the atrocious terrorist attack,” and conveyed his condolences to the families of those killed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed sorrow over the “citizens who were attacked and murdered out of racist hatred” in attacks on the mosques.
“We stand together against such acts of terrorism,” Merkel said through her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, on Twitter, adding that the victims had been doing nothing more than “peacefully praying in their mosque”.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the incident “beyond awful” and called Muslims a “valued part” of Scottish society.
“Innocent people being murdered as they worship is horrific and heartbreaking. My thoughts and solidarity are with New Zealand’s Muslim community and all of its people on this dark day,” she tweeted.
She added: “Today, at mosques across Scotland and elsewhere, Muslims will attend Friday prayers. They are a valued part of our diverse and multicultural society. It is terrorists who commit acts such as who offend our values as a society. We must stand against Islamophobia and all hate.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country stood with New Zealand after the tragic attack.
“We stand here and condemn, absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist,” Morrison told a press conference.
He confirmed media reports that the gunman who mowed down worshippers in the main mosque in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch was an Australian-born citizen, without providing further details.
“We are not just allies, we are not just partners, we are family,” he said.
“It is such a sad and devastating reminder of the evil that can be ever present about us,” Morrison said of the attacks.