Imam of attacked New Zealand mosque says 'we still love this country'

Lawrence Kim
March 16, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump, who condemned the attack as a "horrible massacre", was praised by the accused gunman in a manifesto posted online as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose".

The last comparable mass shooting in New Zealand was nearly three decades ago, and the annual murder rate is usually around 50 people for the entire country.

The Muslim Students' Association has also spoken out about the attack on Facebook.

She pronounced it "one of New Zealand's darkest days".

The prime minister said the attack reflected "extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand". "That won't happen in New Zealand".

He compared it to a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that killed 11 people last October, deadly attacks on churches in Egypt by Islamic State and an attack by a far-right Israeli gunman on a West Bank mosque in 1994 that killed 29 people.

While his manifesto and video were a clear ploy for infamy, they do contain important clues for a public trying to understand why anyone would target dozens of innocent people who were simply spending an afternoon engaged in prayer.

According to gunpolicy.org, in 2017, the estimated rate of both registered and illicit private gun ownership in New Zealand per 100 people is 33.26.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at least three Turkish citizens were wounded in the attacks in New Zealand and that he has spoken to one of them.

None of those arrested had a criminal history or was on any watchlist in New Zealand or Australia.

"As Christians we Cook Islanders have come to accept the church as a place of refuge, of safety and of comfort".

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Calling it a well-planned terrorist attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the main suspect was a licensed gun owner who used five weapons during his rampage, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns.

He said his government expressed compassion and solidarity over this "despicable act affecting our neighbours". Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it. He said they had disabled one and were in the process of disabling the second.

Ardern, wearing a black headscarf, met with survivors and victims' families Saturday at a college which has become an information centre for those affected by the tragedy.

There was a heavy police presence at the hospital where families of the wounded had gathered. Photo: Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.

Ardern said the victims came from across the Muslim world, with Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia among the countries rendering consular assistance. We have seen too many instances of vicious attacks in mosques, synagogues, temples, churches and other houses of worship, and it is time to say, "No More!", reads the statement.

Witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.

Home to almost 400,000 people, Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand's South Island.

"We're hoping that wouldn't spread any fear in our youth, in our community", Wahb said.

"I feel those types of incidents, it takes a lot of hatred to do that and I don't think that's part of our community, in Canada especially".

Meanwhile, the final day of the Auckland secondary schools dance festival Polyfest was cancelled following the attacks.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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