New Zealand is reeling after at least 49 people were shot and killed at two mosques – Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Mosque – in the city of Christchurch on Friday.
According to the New York Times, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden called the mass shootings a terrorist attack, slamming the “extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence” that occurred during a day of prayer for the small immigrant community in the city.
At least 48 other people, including small children, were treated for their injuries from the shooting.
To make matters even more horrific, the methodical attack was reportedly partially broadcasted live on Facebook, following the publication of a white supremacist manifesto on the internet.
A manifesto appeared online just moments before the massacre started, naming both mosques. Links to the manifesto were posted on Twitter and 8chan. The 8chan post included a link to the Facebook page where live broadcast would be streamed.
The gunman reportedly took first-person footage as he launched his attack on Al Noor Mosque. Facebook reported that it quickly shut down the attack, but still the 17-minute video circulated widely online.
Authorities have taken an unidentified suspect in his late 20s into custody and charged him with murder. Police also reported that they had seized several weapons and found two explosive devices on a vehicle, the Times notes.
Three other people who were near the scene of the shootings with weapons were also detained by police, although investigators say that at least one individual had nothing to do with the attacks.
“This is and will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Arden said at a somber news conference.
News of the shooting broke at around 1:40 p.m., around the time of midday prayer, when both mosques would have been busiest.
“Christchurch was the home of these victims,” Arden said. “For many this may not have been the place they were born. For many, New Zealand was their choice, the place that they chose to come to and committed themselves to, the place they chose to raise their families.”
Arden said that the country was likely targeted “because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it.”
But even as the prime minister strongly condemned the acts of violence, a statement from Queensland Senator Fraser Anning has started to be widely criticized as it circulated online due to his hateful and Islamaphobic speech.
“I am utterly opposed to any form of violence within our community, and I totally condemn the actions of the gunman,” Anning stated, before going on to all but condone the gunman’s action.
“Whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence,” he continued. “As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views but t he is all clichéd nonsense. The real cause of bloodshed in New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
This is a statement from a Queensland legislator in Australia. It’s hateful. It’s the very type of lies and propaganda that fuels these types of attacks. It’s hate speech. I hope the constituents/voters of Queensland rise up and say – Not In Our Name. #NewZealandMosqueAttack pic.twitter.com/OtDrtPar5L
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) March 15, 2019
“Let us be clear, while Muslims may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators,” Anning continued in his wildly bigoted statement. “Worldwide, Muslims are killing people in the name of their faith on an industrial scale.”
“The truth is that Islam is not like any other faith. It is the religious equivalent of fascism. And just because the followers of this savage belief were not the killers in this instance does not make them blameless,” he added.
The fact that a group of people could be suffering such massive loss and terror and a politician of all people would think this type of embarrassing and dangerous victim-blaming, as well as widesweeping generalization, is appropriate is baffling to anyone with even the slightest drop of human decency.