Rabat – New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a press conference on Friday, March 15, in response to a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch that left 49 people dead and at least 50 more injured.
Ardern strongly condemned the attack, saying there was “no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.”
She pointed out that “many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand” and that “they may even be refugees.”
“They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us.”
She advised people in Christchurch to stay inside and remain vigilant as police were still “dealing with an unfolding situation” at the time of the press conference.
Ardern added that although it was too soon to confirm the total number of deaths and injuries, it was already “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
She reiterated, “The people who were the subject of this attack today, New Zealand is their home. They should be safe here.”
She said the act of terrorism occurred in “a place where people should have been expressing their religious freedom. Where they should have been in a safe environment. And they have not been today.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also released a statement, confirming that one of the four people taken into custody “is an Australian-born citizen.”
He expressed his support for New Zealand, releasing a video of himself saying: “I want to extend to all New Zealanders today, on behalf of all Australians, our sincere and deepest sympathies for the terrible act of violence that was conflicted upon you on this darkest of days.”
He added, “We look to New Zealand as family, and at this time of our greatest distress, we stand with you.”
He also reiterated that “all of our (Australian) agencies are there to support New Zealanders at this time … We share these values of coming from so many different backgrounds, and a tolerance and a peaceful living together of people of different faiths and cultures. This is what makes our land so special, and we will never allow any act of violence to violate that.”
Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten also said, “We grieve with our brothers and sisters today. We send our love and condolences, our sorrow and solidarity in this terrible time of fear and pain and grief.”
Australian MP blames Muslim immigration
However, one far-right Australian MP, Fraser Anning, caused global outrage online after he released a statement seemingly blaming New Zealand’s Muslim migrant community for the terrorist act committed against them. He began his statement with: “I am utterly opposed to any form of violence within our community, and I totally condemn the actions of the gunman.”
But Anning went on to say, “However, while 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.”
Scott Morrison strongly condemned the senator’s statements, responding, “The remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting.” “Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament.”
A petition has been made on change.org to remove the extreme right-wing senator from Parliament, and it already has 70,000 signatures with an end goal of 75,000.