'End of innocence': How world reacted to New Zealand terror attack

Our Foreign Staff
The Press newspaper in Christchurch and the New Zealand Herald

Leaders, organisations and the media around the world expressed disgust and sorrow at the killing of 49 people in shootings at two New Zealand mosques on Friday, attacks that many blamed on the demonisation of Muslims by the West.

Western leaders from Donald Trump to Theresa May expressed solidarity with New Zealanders, deploring what the White House called a "vicious act of hate".

The response from some Muslim countries went further, blaming politicians and the media for stoking that hatred. The nationalities of the victims included Indian, Pakistani, Malaysian, Indonesian, Egyptian, Bangladeshi, Saudi, Somalian and Turkish, authorities said.

New Zealand police said 50 people were killed and 42 were being treated for wounds, including a four-year-old child. 

Brenton Tarrant appeared in court on Saturday charged with murder over the attack. Police said more charges would follow.

Here's a round up of the reaction around the world.

New Zealand

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the tragedy as a "terrorist attack" and noted many of the victims could be migrants or refugees.

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

On Saturday, she said the "primary perpetrator" in the shootings was a licensed gun owner and legally acquired the five guns used. Ms Ardern said the country's gun laws would change as a result of the carnage, but she did not specify how.

New Zealand is also generally considered to be welcoming to migrants and refugees.

On Saturday, people across the country were reaching out to Muslims in their communities on social media to volunteer acts of kindness - offering rides to the grocery store or volunteering to walk with them if they felt unsafe.

In other forums, people discussed Muslim food restrictions as they prepared to drop off meals for those affected.

The prime minister said the attack reflected "extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand."

Immigrants "have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home," Ardern said. "They are us."

The Otago Daily Times

Australia

In Sydney, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the gunman as "an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist".

Some of the media focused on the fact the killer was Australian. 

The Weekend West
The Weekend Australian

Australian senator Fraser Anning sparked outrage after suggesting the real cause of the attack was Muslim immigration.

The independent Queensland senator also tweeted: "Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?".

Sajid Javid, Home Secretary, the Home Secretary, accused him of fanning the flames of extremism, while Mr Morrison called the views "disgusting".

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, analyst C. J. Werleman said "Tarrant represents the dangerous convergence between broken white men and extreme right-wing media".

"If the slaying of dozens of Muslims so close to home isn’t a warning that Islamophobia and the rise of white supremacy must be taken seriously, then what is?" he added. 

The Courier Mail

United States

US President Donald Trump, who was praised by the accused gunman in a manifesto posted online as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose",  condemned the "horrible massacre" in which "innocent people have so senselessly died". 

Asked by a reporter in Washington if he thought white nationalism is a rising threat around the world, Mr Trump said: "I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand perhaps that’s a case, I don’t know enough about it yet."

Ms Ardern said she had spoken to Mr Trump, who had asked how he could help.

"My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities," she said she told him.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend in Indiana and a Democratic presidential candidate for 2020, wrote a letter to the Islamic Society of Michiana, saying "this entire City has its arms around you, in love and peace". 

"The diversity of our community is its strength, and the members of the Islamic community have greatly enriched this city, in your worship, in your service, even by the diversity of nationalities among your number. We would be poorer without you.

"You are our teachers and our doctors, our neighbours and our friends." 

Middle East and Asia

Political and Islamic leaders across Asia and the Middle East voiced concern over the targeting of Muslims.

"I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11," Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan posted on social media. "1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the attack was a result of Muslims being demonised. "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 tweeted.

Hundreds of protesters in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, chanted "Allahu akbar!" (God is Greatest) after Friday prayers.

"We will not let the blood of Muslims go in vain," said one protester. Members of the Bangladesh national cricket team, in Christchurch for a match against New Zealand, arrived for Friday prayers as the shooting started but were not hurt.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the world’s largest Muslim body, to discuss this "horrible crime", Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.

"Western hypocrisy of defending demonisation of Muslims as 'freedom of expression' MUST end," Zarif said on Twitter. He posted a picture of President Donald Trump saying "I think Islam hates us," during the 2016 US election campaign.

The Palestinian chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, called the attack a "consequence of racist ideologies that continue trying to promote religious wars".

He compared it to the shooting last October at a synagogue in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh that killed 11 people, 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.

A statement by Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, which has been accused by the United States of terrorism, said in part: "Hezbollah warns against the tendency of extremism against Muslims and foreigners and against the politics of hate that the United States nourishes in the world, rather than religious values that advocate tolerance, dialogue and acceptance of the other."

UK and Europe

Prime Minister Theresa May denounced the terror attack as a "sickening act of violence" while the Queen said she was "deeply saddened by the appalling events".

Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, said Londoners stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Christchurch.

He also pointed his finger at those who promote religious hatred.

"When the flames of hatred are fanned, when people are demonised 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 Minister Erna Solberg said the attack brought back memories of the 2011 attack by anti-Muslim extremist Anders Breivik that killed 77 people.

"It shows that extremism is nurtured and that it lives in many places," she added.

German Chancellor Merkel mourned "with the New Zealanders for their fellow citizens who were attacked and murdered out of racist hatred while peacefully praying in their mosques".

Her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said: "When people are murdered solely because of their religion, this is an attack on us all."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted that he learned of the attack "with horror and profound sadness."

Le Monde

"The European Union will always stand with New Zealand and against those who heinously want to destroy our societies and our way of life," he wrote.

In France, home to western Europe's largest Muslim community, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner ordered regional authorities to bolster security at mosques as a precaution.