Political and Islamic leaders expressed their disgust at the deadly shooting at two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, with some citing rising “Islamophobia” as responsible.
What you need to know:
- Police said 49 people have been killed in what the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as one of New Zealand’s darkest days.
- Three suspects are in custody, according to police. One of them has been charged with murder.
- At one mosque, authorities said they found explosive devices, which they were able to secure before they detonated.
- Police have asked mosques to close across New Zealand.
- Facebook and Twitter announced they will remove videos of the attacks from their platforms.
Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand, called for a tightening of gun control laws, saying “people have to be fit and proper persons so have guns.”
British Queen Elizabeth II said she has been “deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch.”
“I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured,” the queen said in a statement. “At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the twin terror attacks in New Zealand, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.
“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,” said Merkel. “We stand together against such acts of terrorism.”
“Undoubtedly the law can be strengthened and improved,” said Clark, who also led the UN Development Program. “Personally, I would be surprised if the New Zealand Parliament didn’t accept that challenge head on to strengthen the law.”
As governments in Asia and the Middle East scrambled to find out how many of their citizens had been caught up in the bloodshed in the city of Christchurch, 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 President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged leaders to take measures against what he called the “dangerous trend” of Muslims being targets of attacks, particularly in Western societies.
Officials from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas joined in sharply condemning the attacks. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said he extends his “prayers and tears” to the families of the victims.
Erekat denounced the “use of religion for political ends” on Twitter Friday, recalling past attacks targeting places of worship, including Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of Palestinian worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron, and the assault on a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, called the carnage in New Zealand “a heinous crime against worshippers in their mosques.”
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the attack confirmed “that terrorism knows no religion…it’s the result of incitement against Islam and Muslims.”