Condemnation, condolences pour in from world leaders after New Zealand terrorist attack
New Zealand police said at least 49 people were killed Friday at two mosques in the picturesque South Island city of Christchurch. More than 20 were seriously wounded in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a "terrorist attack."
Forty-one people were shot dead at the Deans Ave mosque, seven were killed at the Linwood Ave attack, and one person shot in the second mosque attack died in hospital.
One man was arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a carefully planned racist attack. Police also defused explosive devices in a car. Two other people were being held in custody and police were trying to determine how they might be involved.
Prominent Muslim leaders say the mass shooting was evidence of a rising tide of violent Islamophobia.
Strongly condemning the deadly shootings, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attacks the "latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia."
Speaking at the funeral of a former minister, Erdogan said the Islamophobia that motivated the attacks "has rapidly started to take over Western communities like a cancer."
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan echoed those sentiments. "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," he tweeted.
President of the biggest Muslim majority nation, Joko Widodo condemned the attacks, in which an Indonesian father and son were among those wounded.
The country’s foreign minister, Retno Marsudi said Indonesia strongly condemns this shooting act, especially at a place of worship.
Leader of the biggest party in ruling coalition in Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim said he was deeply saddened by this uncivilized act, which goes against humanistic values and took the lives of civilians.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said bigotry in Western countries contributed to the attacks on Muslims in New Zealand. In a Friday tweet, he also criticized the West for "defending demonization of Muslims as 'freedom of expression.'"
Jordan's King Abdullah II tweeted that "the heinous massacre against Muslims praying in peace in New Zealand is an appalling terrorist crime. It unites us against extremism, hatred and terrorism, which knows no religion." Jordan's Foreign Ministry confirmed that one Jordanian was killed and five wounded in the attack.
The secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Youssef al-Othaimeen, said in a statement that the attack "served as a further warning on the obvious dangers of hate, intolerance, and Islamophobia."
Afghanistan's Taliban movement — Islamic militants who carry out near-daily attacks on Afghan security forces — also condemned the shooting rampage, calling it an "unforgivable crime."
Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yusuf called on the New Zealand government to investigate "the root cause of such terrorism and hand a hefty punishment to the attackers."
Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, which is considered a terrorist organization by Western countries, condemned the "policy of hatred that the United States is feeding around the world instead of prevailing religious values that call for forgiveness."
In a tweet, US President Donald Trump sent "warmest sympathy and best wishes" to the people of New Zealand.
In his message, Trump said my warmest sympathy and best wishes go out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques.
He wrote that "49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!"
Earlier, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the United States strongly condemned the attack.
She said our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City is providing extra security for Muslim community centers and mosques. He said he wants the city's Muslims to know that New Yorkers "truly embrace" them and "have their backs."
Queen Elizabeth II, who is New Zealand's head of state, said in a message to the country she was "deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch" and sent condolences to families and friends of victims. The queen also paid tribute to emergency services and volunteers supporting the injured.
"At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders," she said in her message.
London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the city's Metropolitan Police force would be visible outside mosques.
"London stands with the people of Christchurch in the face of this horrific terror attack," he said. "London will always celebrate the diversity that some seek to destroy."
European Union High Representative for Foreign Relations and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said in a statement that attacks on places of worship are attacks on all of us who value diversity and freedom of religion and expression.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted that he learned of the attack "with horror and profound sadness."
"The European Union will always stand with #NewZealand and against those who heinously want to destroy our societies and our way of life," he wrote.
NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said in a tweet that the military alliance stands with New Zealand in defense of our open societies and shared values.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has also expressed shock and revulsion at the terror attack in New Zealand.
He said on behalf of the Commonwealth family I convey my deepest sympathy to the people of New Zealand and to all those directly affected by the appalling acts of hate-fuelled violence that have been inflicted on the community in Christchurch.
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.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attacks a "brazen act of terror." His office said on Twitter that Israel mourns the murder of innocent worshippers, condemns the assault and sends its condolences to bereaved families.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas extended his country's sympathies to those who lost loved ones, saying "if people are murdered solely because of their religion, that is an attack on all of us."
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the "dastardly terrorist attack" and offered his condolences, as did several other world leaders.
A telegram of condolences sent by the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis said he was "deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life" caused by the "senseless acts of violence" in Christchurch. He assured all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his "heartfelt solidarity."
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