Global condemnation grows after New Zealand terror attack

Published 16.03.2019 00:53

Terror attacks on two mosques in New Zealand which left at least 49 people dead Friday have sparked horror, revulsion and dismay around the world.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed sorrow over the "citizens who were attacked and murdered out of racist hatred" in terror attacks. "We stand together against such acts of terrorism," Merkel said through her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, on Twitter, adding that the victims had been doing nothing more than "peacefully praying in their mosque." The country's foreign Minister Heiko Maas extended his country's sympathies to the friends and families of the victims of the attack. "The horrific terrorist attack in Christchurch targeted peacefully praying Muslims, if people are murdered solely because of their religion, that is an attack on all of us," he said.

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." London mosques have been targeted in the past. One man died and several others were injured in 2017 when Darren Osborne drove a van into people leaving evening prayers. Prosecutors say Osborne was motivated by a hatred of Muslims and far-right propaganda he found online.

U.S. President Donald Trump condemned as a "horrible massacre" twin mosque attacks, saying that "My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured," Trump wrote on Twitter. Trump, whose rhetoric is sometimes aligned with the far right in the United States, added: "The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!"

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg urged the international community to combat all forms of extremism after the Christchurch attacks, which revived painful memories of the 2011 mass killings in Norway by mass killer Anders Behring Breivik. "It's obviously very sad. It recalls painful memories of our own experience with July 22, the most difficult moment in the post-war period in Norway." European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted that he learned of the attack "with horror and profound sadness." "The EU will always stand with #NewZealand and against those who heinously want to destroy our societies and our way of life," he wrote.

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.

Russia was also quick to express its condemnation of the incident. "An attack against peaceful people gathering for prayer is shocking in its cruelty and cynicism," Russian President Vladimir Putin said. "I hope that those involved will be severely punished," he said in a message to New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Arden.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also condemned the deadly attack, saying: "Terrorism knows no religion." "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," Khan tweeted. "This has been done deliberately to demonize legitimate Muslim political struggles," he added. In Iran, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi condemned the attack and urged New Zealand authorities to bring to justice those who carried out the "racist, inhumane and barbaric" attacks.

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