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Anti-Muslim violence

2019-MAR: The Tragic
Shooting of Almost 100 People
in Two New Zealand Mosques.
Fifty died!
Part 1:

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Prior to this shooting, the greatest loss of life by mass shooting in New Zealand had occurred in 1990 when David Gray killed 13 people in what is called the Aramoana massacre. Reaction to that mass murder resulted in a revision to the country's gun laws in 1993. Gun owners are now required to obtain a license but are not required to register their guns. 1

That previous record has been demolished by coordinated attacks by one individual on two mosques about 5 km (three miles) apart in central Christchurch on New Zealand's South island. The attacks occurred on Friday, 2019-MAR-15, about 1:40 PM local time. Early afternoon on Fridays are the time when the largest number of Muslims attend mosques.

One of the mosques is Masijd ak Noor on Deans Avenue, where most of the victims died. The other is Linwood Masjid on Linwood Avenue, Christchurch.

By that evening at 10:00 PM New Zealand time, (5 AM U.S. Eastern Time) a total of 49 people were initially known to have died at the mosques. Their ages ranged from 2 to over 60 years. Another body was later discovered, bringing the total dead to 50. At least 48 other people were being treated in Christchurch Hospital for gunshot wounds. Others were not seriously wounded and probably treated themselves at home.

Many of the victims were immigrants from Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. 2

In a very courageous act, two lightly armed police officers located the gunman in his car, forced it off the roadway, and arrested the driver,

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, said that:

"There were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in. ... it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack," 2

There is a third Muslim facility in Christchurch: the Muslim Association Of Canterbury (MAC) which is also used as a mosque. That was probably the shooters third destination.

star The MAC web site lists two bank accounts to which donations can be made to support victims of the shooting and pay for funerals for those murdered. See: http://www.macnz.org/

The police initially detained four people: three men and one woman. One was Brenton Tarrant, 28, a citizen of Australia. 3 He was later charged with murder.

None of the four were on any security watch lists. One was released after they were determined to be an armed bystander who only wanted to help the police.

The status and degree of involvement in the shooting -- if any -- of the remaining two detained persons was not determined during the evening of the shootings. They were later released.

A website that is suspected to belong to the attacker contains a hyperlink to an unsigned 87-page anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, white supremacist manifesto.

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A video of the massacre was posted on the Internet:

A 17 minute live streamed video was posted on Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and Instagram, apparently by the shooter using a video camera attached to his helmet. It showed the attack live, as it happened. Apparently, only ten people watched the video live on Facebook. By the time that Facebook was informed of the video by New Zealand police and were able to remove the video, almost 4,000 people had viewed it. All of the original videos have since been removed. However, they were online long enough for copies to have been made. These are still circulating online elsewhere on the Internet; the copies may have been viewed by millions over the next few weeks. 17,18

Carol Kuruvilla, writing for Huffington Post said:

"CAIR and other Muslim advocates and leaders urged people not to share videos or images of the massacre online." 9

She quoted:

  • Omar Suleiman, the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, tweeted:

    "Please don't circulate the video of the terrorist gunning down our brothers and sisters. That's what he wanted."

    His tweet received 33,300 likes within three days.

  • Qasim Rashid, a candidate for the Virginia State Senate, District 28, in the U.S. tweeted:

    "My request as a Muslim & fellow human:

    The New Zealand terrorists live streamed their terrorist attack with specific hopes you watch it & share it.

    Do Not Give Them A Platform.

    Suffocate their hate. Suffocate their hate. Suffocate their hate.

    Thank you."

    His tweet received 35,628 likes within three days.

Bev Weber, president of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors said that individuals who watch the video would find it:

"... very, very traumatic."

Christine Macfarlane, the Canterbury executive for the Association said:

"They are not going to forget what happened. You can't unsee what you've seen."

Clinical psychologist Dr Neil Thompson agreed, saying:

"Many people will have been sent and accessed this material at a time of crisis and uncertainty when information about the events was scant. To this end, many people may have found themselves looking at material that in other circumstances they may have decided not to view. ..."

"It is important that individuals who have seen this material seek help if the content has disturbed them." 16

Several Internet providers in the country, including Spark, Vodafone, and Vocusare, are cooperating to block access to web sites in other countries that provide copies of the video. A Spark spokesperson said:

"Following the tragic incident in Christchurch yesterday afternoon, Spark, along with many other New Zealand broadband providers have suspended access to a number of overseas websites hosting the live footage taken from the ... [alleged offender].

Those websites were not particularly well known to New Zealanders.

Considering the horrific circumstances we felt it was the responsible thing to do.

We continue to proactively attempt to suspend any further websites featuring the disturbing footage, and where possible are liaising with website owners so they can shut the content down. If offending content is removed we will reinstate access.

We can confirm that liveleak.com is one of the websites temporarily suspended." 19

In the U.S., the House Committee on Homeland Security asked executives from U.S. technical firms to explain how the video was being proliferated online. They said it was "critically important” to filter such violent images. 20

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More information on the massacre:

At the Linwood Mosque, Syed Mazharuddin -- a member of the congregation -- described the tragic events. He said that he had heard gunshots and that:

"People got feared and there was screaming around and I tried to take cover. By the time I took cover this guy came through the main entrance door. ... It's a small mosque. There were about 60 to 70 people there. The young guy who usually takes care of the mosque ... saw an opportunity and pounced on [the gunman] and took [one of] his gun[s]. The hero tried to chase and he couldn't find the trigger in the gun.

Just around the entrance door there were elderly people sitting there praying and he just started shooting at them."

I ran out and then the police came and they didn't let me come back in again so I couldn't save my friend. He was bleeding heavily.

"It took ... more than half an hour by the time the ambulance could arrive and I think he must have died." 21

Mike Bush, the New Zealand police commissioner urged that people stay away from mosques everywhere in New Zealand for a while. He asked mosques to:

"... close your doors until you hear from us again." 4

Near the two mosques, numerous Christchurch students happened to be taking part in the Global Climate Strike. This was a student strike seen in Canada, Sweden, the UK, the U.S., etc. At least 1,693 student demonstrations were held in cities and towns throughout 106 countries on the same day. 5 They were protesting the lack of government actions to combat climate change. Bill McKibben, an environmentalist and webmaster at the 350.org web site issued a tweet:

"Blocks apart in Christchurch NZ, kids protesting for climate action and a gunman shooting up a mosque. The best and the worst of our world, side by side."

A car belonging to the suspected attacker was found to contain two improvised explosive devices which were safely handled by the police.

Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand said that today is "One of New Zealand's darkest days." She said:

"What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence ... an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand." 1,4

She said that New Zealand was apparently:

"... not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, [or] because we are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it. ... I can assure you, I will not, and cannot, be shaken by this attack. We utterly condemn and reject you." 7,13

She also tweeted:

"What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities. New Zealand is their home -- they are us." 4

"They are us" has since become the uniting words being associated with this mass shooting.

The Fifth Khalifa (Caliph), His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad is the World Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He strongly condemned the Christchurch terrorist attack. Speaking from London, UK, he said:

"On behalf of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community worldwide, I express my deepest sympathies and condolences to all those affected by the barbaric terrorist attack that has taken place in Christchurch.

Such heinous and utterly inhumane attacks must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. It is a grave tragedy that dozens of innocent Muslims have lost their lives whilst joining together for worship. All people, no matter their faith or belief, have the right to worship peacefully.

This tragic event should serve as a lesson and warning to other countries of the developed world that we must join together to tackle all forms of racial, ethnic and religious hatred with wisdom and with a firm hand." 22

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Posting to the ReligiousTolerance.org Facebook page on the date of the tragedy:

Ian Philip James posted:

"In the beginning of the rise of humanity to control over the planet several emotional ideas took root - love, wonder, hope, fear, greed etc yet the greatest of these was love.

As people in Christchurch, within the islamic community globally and all those who are able to empathise with the distress of others struggle to come to grips with recent events that ripped the heart out of so many innocents I just want to say to all of you that you are loved exactly as you are. Love is the only thing that can heal these wounds and unite us all as humans.

In the heart of this terrible storm I hope that you may find peace that will enable you to come at last to the shore on the other side.

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2019-MAR-16: Queen Elizabeth II sent a message to New Zealanders:

She sent it to the Governor General of New Zealand, saying that she was:

"... saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives."

She also paid tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who had offered support to those wounded in the attacks. 8

Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia, which is located west of New Zealand across the Tasman Sea in the South Pacific Ocean. He said that the attackers were:

"... extremist right wing, violent terrorists. ... Australia and New Zealand -- we're not just allies, we're not just partners, we're family and as family members with our New Zealand cousins today, we grieve, we are shocked, we're appalled, we're outraged."

In the past, both Australia and New Zealand were British colonies. They are now among the 53 countries that form the British Commonwealth.

President Recep Erdogan of Turkey said:

"On behalf of my country, I offer my condolences to the Islamic world and the people of New Zealand, who have been targeted by this deplorable act -- the latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia."

Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan said that he was:

"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." 7

He issued a statement saying that:

"Pakistan was proud of Mian Naeem Rashid, who was martyred trying to tackle the attacker, and his courage would be recognized with a national award." 11

Rashid's son was also killed at the mosque door.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, announced a national day of mourning with flags to be flown at half mast on Monday, MAR-18. He told reporters:

"The whole nation mourns this shock." 11

On Saturday, MAR-17, a crowd of 12,000 at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on New Zealand's North Island attended a rally to express solidarity with the Muslim community. One attendee was Hussain Suleman, who recently moved to New Zealand from the U.S. He said:

"The reason we moved from the US was because basically we wanted a safe country and now all of a sudden we feel that: 'did we make the right decision'?."

He said that intolerance had become universal and people needed to understand that tolerance was key.

His friend, Zahada Davies, mother of 11-year-old twins, said:

"I moved to New Zealand before the kids were born, for the same reason because it's a safe place, want to bring the children up in a multicultural society, and now suddenly it feels like it's at risk."

Some people held hand-drawn signs with messages like:

  • "Please Make sure this Won't happen again."

  • "NZ IS our home."

  • "There is no tolerance for intolerance." 15

By Sunday, MAR-17, Immigration New Zealand had granted 35 visa applications for the families of victims, and was working "flat out" to handle a backlog of urgent requests.12

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened an official book of condolences in the Grand Hall of Parliament for the victims of the Christchurch attacks. Another condolence book was made available at the National Library. She said:

"We have already seen a huge outpouring of love and support from across the country for those affected and for the wider Christchurch community. These actions represent the true values of New Zealanders -- love and compassion.

The Muslim community in New Zealand have experienced the most horrendous attack on them imaginable. While it is a small action, the condolence book offers an opportunity for New Zealanders to unite and express our opposition to hate, and state our commitment to the values of love and compassion." 14

In a reaction to the New Zealand mosque attacks, U.S. police in Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, and Minneapolis, MN said that they were reassessing security at the mosques in their cities. The LAPD issued a tweet saying:

"The LAPD is monitoring the horrific events unfolding in Christchurch, New Zealand. While this attack appears to be an isolated incident with no nexus to LA, out of an abundance of caution we’re providing extra patrols around mosques. Our thoughts & prayers are with all affected." 8

Police in Toronto, Canada and at other locations around the world also heightened security at their local mosques.

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More reactions in the U.S. to the New Zealand mass shootings:

  • Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said:

    "To God we belong, and to Him is our return. We mourn the heartbreaking killings of men, women and children gathered for prayer in their houses of worship and urge leaders in our nation and worldwide to speak out forcefully against the growing anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate that appears to have motivated these white supremacist terrorists. In the wake of this tragedy, we urge mosques, Islamic schools, and other community institutions in the United States and around the world to take stepped-up security precautions, particularly during times of communal prayer."9

    star CAIR urges mosques and other Islamic institutions to take measures outlined in its "Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety" booklet. The advice in CAIR’s security publication is applicable to all institutions, regardless of organizational mission. The booklet may be viewed at: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/

  • Federal Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is a Muslim and the first naturalized citizen born in Africa to be elected to a legislative office in the U.S. She shared the same verse from the Qur'an: 2:156. Interpreted from the original Arabic, it means:

    "We belong to God and indeed to Him we will return."

    This passage is often quoted by Muslims after a death or tragedy.

She attended a Friday prayer service and encouraged others not to "live in fear." 10

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This topic continues in Part 2

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Ben Westcott, et al., "Mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand," CNN World, 2019-MAR-15, at: https://www.cnn.com/
  2. Nichole Chavez, et al., "Suspect in New Zealand mosque shootings was prepared 'to continue his attack,' PM says," CNN World, 2019-MAR-16, at: https://www.cnn.com/
  3. "Mosque Massacre, Smollett Pleads Not Guilty, and What to Know About March Madness," email from 1440 Daily Digest.
  4. Charlotte Grham-McLay & Megan Specia, "New Zealand Shooting Live Updates: 49 Are Dead After 2 Mosques Are Hit " New York Times, 2019-KAR-15, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
  5. Harmeet Kaur & Madison Park, "Global climate strikes are happening now. Young environmental activists skip school in a call to action," CNN World, 2019-MAR-15, at: https://www.cnn.com/
  6. "World Reacts to Deadly New Zealand Mosque Shootings," NBC Philadelphia, 2019-MAR-15, at: https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/
  7. Alene Tchekmedyian, "LAPD beefs up patrols around mosques after deadly New Zealand terrorist attacks," Los Angeles Times, 2019-MAR-14, at:https://www.latimes.com/
  8. "The Queen's message to New Zealand in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings," Stuff.co.nz, 2019-MAR-16, at: https://www.stuff.co.nz/
  9. "CAIR-NJ Condemns Terror Attack on New Zealand Mosques, Urges Stepped-Up Security by Muslim Communities in U.S., Worldwide," CAIR New Jersey, 2019-MAR-15, at: https://nj.cair.com/
  10. Carol Kuruvilla, "American Muslims Grieve, Call For Action After New Zealand Mosque Shootings," Huffington Post, 2019-MAR-15, at: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/
  11. "Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan recognises 'martyred' Mian Naeem Rashid who was shot in Christchurch attacks," Radio New Zealand, 2019-MAR-18, at: https://www.radionz.co.nz/
  12. "Christchurch mosque terror attacks: A brother's agonising visa wait," Radio New Zealand, 2019-MAR-18, at: https://www.radionz.co.nz/
  13. Annabel Crabb, "Opinion: When Jacinda Ardern announced her pregnancy alarm bells rang - doubters were wrong," Radio New Zealand, 2019-MAR-18, at:https://www.radionz.co.nz/
  14. John Gerritsen, "Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opens book of condolences: 'They are us'," Radio New Zealand, 2019-MAR-18, at: https://www.radionz.co.nz/
  15. Kate Gudsell, "Christchurch mosque terror attacks: 12,000 Wellingtonians express solidarity at rally," Radio New Zealand, 2019-MAR-18, at: https://www.radionz.co.nz/
  16. Amy Wiggins, "Christchurch mosque shooting: Livestream viewing traumatic for many," New Zealand Herald, 2019-MAR-29, at: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/
  17. Yoree Kah, "Why Video of New Zealand Massacre Can’t Be Stamped Out," The Wall Streat Journal, 2019-MAR-17. at: https://www.wsj.com/
  18. Chris Keall, "Christchurch killer's livestream: Facebook reveals viewer numbers, responds to critics," New Zealand Herald, 2019-MAR-19, at: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/
  19. "Internet companies block video footage of the alleged mosque killings in Christchurch," New Zealand Herald, 2019-MAR-21, at: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/
  20. "New Zealand to broadcast Muslim call for prayer on national TV and radio on Friday," The Muslim Times, 2019-MAR-20, at: https://themuslimtimes.info/
  21. "Christchurch mosque shooting: Linwood mosque 'hero' tackled gunman, grabbed weapon," New Zealand Herald, 2019-MAR-15, at: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/
  22. Jack Peat, "This tragic event should serve as a lesson...," The Muslim Times, 2019-MAR-19, at: https://themuslimtimes.info/

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Copyright 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2019-MAR-15
Latest update; 2019-APR-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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