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World leaders condemn 'sickening' terrorism in New Zealand

  • Published at 01:20 am March 16th, 2019
Grieving members of the public following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019 Reuters

Leaders offer support to victims of mosque attacks and criticize rise of Islamophobia

As news of the terrorist atrocities in Christchurch spread, political leaders around the world expressed their sorrow, shock and anger at what the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

Donald Trump expressed his “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand after “the horrible massacre in the mosques,” reports the Guardian.

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 called the assault, which killed at least 49 people and left dozens more injured, a “sickening act of violence.”

“On behalf of the UK, my deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand after the horrifying terrorist attack in Christchurch.”

Britain's Queen Elizabeth, who is New Zealand's head of state, said she was "deeply saddened by the appalling events"

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in the aftermath of what he called a “horrifying terrorist attack.”

“I condemn the violent, extremist, rightwing 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.

One of Ardern’s predecessors, Helen Clark, said she was “in a state of shock” about what had happened in a country renowned for its peacefulness.

“This isn’t the NZ we know and love. It’s an unprecedented attack. Deepest sympathies to families. RIP,” she tweeted.

António Guterres, the UN secretary general, condemned the shooting “of innocent people as they prayed peacefully in mosques in New Zealand”, adding: “Today and every day, we must stand united against anti-Muslim hatred, & all forms of bigotry & terror.”

Two of the most high-profile leaders in the Muslim world offered their sympathies but pointed out that the attacks had occurred in a climate of increasing Islamophobia.

“I strongly condemn the terror attack against Al Noor mosque in New Zealand and Muslim worshippers,” said Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “May Allah have mercy on the victims and grant a speedy recovery to the wounded.

Imran Khan, who was elected prime minister of Pakistan last summer, said the attacks confirmed what he had always maintained: “that terrorism does not have a religion.”

Pope Francis says he is "deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence."

In a telegram, the Pope said he "assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks."

The Pope added that he was "mindful of the efforts of the security and emergency personnel in this difficult situation."

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, offered his solidarity.

“All our thoughts are with the victims of the heinous crimes against the mosques of Christchurch, New Zealand, and with their loved ones,” he said. “France stands against all forms of extremism and acts with its partners against terrorism in the world.”

The Spanish government said it “forcefully condemns” the attacks.

“As well as wishing a swift recovery to the injured, the government offers its most sincere condolences to the friends and relatives of the victims, as well as to the people and government of New Zealand, a close ally in the shared fight against extremism and terrorism,” it said in a statement.

Former US president Barack Obama in a tweet said: "Michelle and I send our condolences to the people of New Zealand. We grieve with you and the Muslim community. All of us must stand against hatred in all its forms."

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton tweeted " My heart breaks for New Zealand & the global Muslim community. We must continue to fight the perpetuation and normalization of Islamophobia and racism in all its forms. 

"White supremacist terrorists must be condemned by leaders everywhere. Their murderous hatred must be stopped."