World unites in condemnation of New Zealand attacks

In the West, where analysts warned that far right anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise, leaders similarly expressed condemnation and calls for unity.
Monday 18/03/2019
Candles are placed to commemorate victims of Friday's shooting, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch. (AP)
Candles are placed to commemorate victims of Friday's shooting, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch. (AP)

World leaders united in condemning the horrendous attacks on two Christchurch mosques last week, with many calling for additional international effort to confront the rising spectre of far-right anti-immigration and specifically anti-Muslim sentiment that is emerging in a number of countries.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also strongly condemned the attack, describing it as a “heinous crime of religious hatred,” according to Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

"On behalf of myself and my country, which devoted a whole year for tolerance, we offer our condolences to New Zealand, the victims' families and all Muslims," he wrote in Arabic on Twitter.

"We condemn the crime and express our deepest sorrow. We call the world to reassess their stand in order to establish interfaith tolerance."

While Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, called on the world to unite to “fight hatred.”

"Our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the hate crime that took the lives of innocent Muslims performing Friday prayers in New Zealand," he wrote on Twitter.

"We call on the world to fight hatred."

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman offered their condolences to the New Zealand government.

"We strongly condemn this outrageous criminal act and would like to express to you and to the families of the deceased and to the people of New Zealand on behalf of the people and government of Saudi Arabia our heartfelt and sincere condolences,” the statement said.

"The heinous massacre of the worshipers at mosques in New Zealand is a terrorist act and underlines the responsibility of the international community to confront the rhetoric of hatred and terrorism, which is not recognized by religions or values of coexistence among peoples," King Salman said via his official Twitter account.

Practically all Arab and Muslim countries united in condemning the attack and calling for additional action to confront hate speech while emphasizing the importance of coexistence and tolerance.  

Muslims religious institutions repeated the call, with Al-Azhar, Egypt’s more than 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Islamic learning, saying the attacks indicated a dangerous spike in anti-Muslim hatred.

“This attack, which violated the sanctity of God’s houses and shed worshippers’ blood, must be an alarm to stop intolerance and the racist currents and groups which carry out such crimes of bigotry,” Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb said.

“More efforts are needed to nurture coexistence, tolerance and social integration among people of the same nation, regardless of their religion and culture,” he added.

In the West, where analysts warned that far right anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise, leaders similarly expressed condemnation and calls for unity.

US President Donald Trump, who has faced criticism for playing down the threat posed by far right terrorism, expressed his  “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand after “the horrible massacre in the mosques”. The US president tweeted  that “innocent people have so senselessly died” and added: “The US stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

British Prime Minister Theresa May explicitly labelled the incident as a “horrifying terrorist attack” and seemed to back calls for more action to tackle hate speech.

“To target Muslims as they were attending their place of worship is despicable,” May said. “There can be no place in our societies for the vile ideology that drives and incites hatred and fear. Together we will defeat those who seek to destroy our values, our way of life and seek to divide us.”

Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in the aftermath of the attack which was allegedly carried out by Branton Tarrant, an Australian national.

“I condemn the violent, extremist, right-wing terrorist attack that has stolen the lives of so many innocent New Zealanders as they went about their peaceful practice of worship at their mosques in Christchurch today,” he said.

However Australian senator Fraser Anning, who represents Queensland, stoked controversy in the aftermath of the attack by linking the shootings to immigration. “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?” he asked on twitter.

Anning faced a storm of controversy for his comments which openly blamed the victims of the attack for violence perpetrated against them, with more than one million people signing a petition calling for him to be removed from parliament.