Mosque attacks spark outrage, fuel concern over Islamophobia
World leaders expressed condolences and condemnation Friday following the deadly attacks on mosques in New Zealand, while Muslim leaders said the mass shooting was evidence of a rising tide of violent Islamophobia.
In a tweet, U.S. President Donald Trump sent “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand.
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!”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attacks the “latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia”.
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”.
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.
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 and 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim,” he tweeted.
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”.
Queen Elizabeth, who is New Zealand’s head of state, said in a message to the country that 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.
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.