–PM Imran, Turkish FM blame Islamophobia for New Zealand mosque shootings; Imran says terrorism has no religion
–Trump makes no mention of terrorism or bigotry in tweet, as other world leaders decry an act of ‘racist hatred’
–Australian PM Morrison says Australian national arrested after attack was an ‘extremist, right-wing violent terrorist’
Political and religious leaders around the world expressed disgust and sorrow at the deadly shooting at two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, with some blaming politicians and the media for having stoked hatred of Muslims that led to the attack.
As governments in Asia and the Middle East scrambled to find out how many of their citizens had been caught up in the Christchurch bloodshed, there was anger that the attackers targeted worshippers at Friday prayers.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the shootings, blaming them on Islamophobia.
The premier tweeted: “Shocked and [I] 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.”
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.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2019
PM Imran pinned the blame for these terror attacks on “current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam and 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror [that is committed] by a Muslim”.
“This has been done deliberately to also demonize legitimate Muslim political struggles,” he added.
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. https://t.co/5bBREoayLz
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2019
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also condemned the heinous incident.
“FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi has condemned in strongest terms the tragic terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. FM has expressed condolences over [the] loss of innocent lives in the heinous attack,” Dr Mohammad Faisal, the FO spokesperson tweeted.
FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi has condemned in the strongest terms the tragic terrorist attack in #Christchurch, #NewZeland
FM has expressed condolences over loss of innocent lives in the heinous attack
#ChristchurchMosqueAttack @MFATgovtNZ @SMQureshiPTI #pakistanagainstterror
— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@ForeignOfficePk) March 15, 2019
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the attack was a result of the demonizing of Muslims. “Not only the perpetrators but also politicians & media that fuel the already escalated Islamophobia and hate in the West are equally responsible for this heinous attack,” he wrote on Twitter.
— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) March 15, 2019
Bangladeshi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said it was “extremely lucky” the country’s cricket team, in Christchurch for a match against New Zealand, did not suffer casualties. The players arrived for Friday prayers as the shooting started.
“I can’t even imagine what would have happened if they were there five minutes earlier,” he said on social media.
Hundreds of angry protesters in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, chanted “allahu akbar” (God is Greatest) after Friday prayers.
“We will not let the blood of Muslims go in vain,” said one protester.
New Zealand police said 49 people were killed. Three men and one woman were in custody and one man had been charged with murder. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said some of the victims may have been new immigrants and refugees.
“They are us,” she said. “The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said an Australian national arrested after the attack was an “extremist, right-wing violent terrorist”.
A city of about 400,000 people, Christchurch has a small Islamic community, including overseas students.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the head of state of New Zealand, said in a statement: “I have been deeply 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.”
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May referred to the mass shooting as a “horrifying terrorist attack.”
In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was deeply saddened: “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. We stand together against such acts of terrorism.”
Similarly, French President Emmanuel Macron in a tweet said, “France stands against all forms of extremism and acts with its partners against terrorism in the world.”
The European Commission said: “This senseless act of brutality on innocent people in their place of worship could not be more opposite to the values and the culture of peace and unity that the European Union shares with New Zealand.”
Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, said Londoners stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Christchurch.
“When the flames of hatred are fanned, when people are demonized because of their faith, when people’s fears are played on rather than addressed, the consequences are deadly as we have seen so sadly today,” he said.
Norwegian Prime Mininster Erna Solberg said the attack brought back memories of 2011 in her country when anti-Muslim extremist Anders Breivik killed 77 people: “It shows that extremism is nurtured and that it lives in many places.”
Al-Azhar University, Egypt’s 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Islamic learning, called the attack “a dangerous indicator of the dire consequences of escalating hate speech, xenophobia, and the spread of Islamophobia.”
NO MENTION OF TERRORISM OR BIGOTRY IN TRUMP’S TWEET:
US President Donald Trump, who was praised in the alleged manifesto of the man who’s claimed responsibility for the shooting, has not described the Christchurch mosque massacre in such terms.
The alleged shooter was seemingly driven by a white nationalist philosophy, harboring vehement anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments. Experts in the field of 8chan message board culture— where the alleged shooter was a frequent poster — cautioned however that the manifesto contains many ironic and misleading signals designed to amplify and sew chaos in coverage of the massacre.
Reacting to the shooting later than other global leaders, Trump tweeted, “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The US stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”
The president made no mention of terrorism, bigotry, or the suspect.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement referred to the incident as an “act of hate,” going further than her boss, but did not mention terrorism.
National Security Adviser John Bolton was also more direct than Trump in his language about the shooting in a conversation with reporters on Friday morning, stating, “We’re obviously greatly disturbed on what seems to be a terror attack, this hate crime in New Zealand. We’ve been in touch with our embassy overnight, we’re still getting details, but the State Department and others are following up on it.”
The White House did not directly address why Trump has not referred to the shooting as terrorism.
Trump has reacted to other acts of violence in far more explicit terms when less evidence was available. As London police were still investigating an incident involving a car crash outside the Houses of Parliament in August 2018, for example, the president tweeted, “Another terrorist attack in London…These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!”