Pacific: New Zealand
Terrorist killing in New Zealand leaves 50 dead at mosque; terrorist manifesto expresses white nationalist sentiment
On March 15, 2019, a gunman opened fire on Muslim worshippers at the Al Noor mosque in Christchrurch, New Zealand, killing dozens of people. Survivors on the scene said that the assailant was wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest and shot worshippers as they were kneeling for prayers, killing 41 people at that scene. Another seven people were killed at a mosque in another neighborhood, and two people died after being taken to the hospital. Children were among the victims. It was the worst ever mass killing in New Zealand.
In response, the country -- one not know for gun violence -- raised its security threat to the highest level and police were stationed at locations across the country. Of concern were reports of improvised explosive devices being found.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said with no equivocation, "This can now only be described as a terrorist attack." Prime Minister Ardern also called the terror attack an assault on the nation's values.
Taking note of the fact that the terrorist was a licensed gun owner who used five weapons during the massacre, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns, Ardern made clear that the country's gun laws would have to change. She said to journalists, "I can tell you one thing right now, our gun laws will change."
THree people were said to be in custody including one man who had been charged with murder. He was later identified as a 28-year-old Australian and avowed neo-Nazi and white supremacist, Brenton Harrison Tarrant.
The terror attack was appallingly broadcast by the gunman on Facebook, in what appeared to be an attempt at "live killing" the kind of mass elimination experience conveyed via violent video games. Ahead of the attack, an anonymous poster on the 8chan discussion site 8chan, announced that he/she was going to “carry out an attack against the invaders.” Included in the post were links to a Facebook livestream and a manifesto.
The motivation for the brutal carnage was expressed via the terrorist's manifesto. In it, the terrorist outlined a grievance of "white genocide," a term deployed by white nationalist and other extremist racist groups to refer to immigration and the growth of minority populations. At the heart of the matter was the assailant's deep antipathy for immigrants, and his deployment of the lexicon of "invaders," which has also been used by United States President Donald Trump in his expression of immigration sentiment. Indeed, the New Zealand mosque shooter praised Donald Trump "as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose."
For his part, however, President Trump officially condemned the "horrible massacre" and the White House called it a "vicious act of hate."
Separately, Trump was asked by a reporter in the United States if he thought white nationalism was a rising threat around the world. Trump replied: "I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand perhaps that’s a case, I don’t know enough about it yet."
Prime Minister Ardern indicated that she had spoken with the United States leader who asked her how he could help. Adern declared, "My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities."
In a national address clearly aimed at building national unity and healing, Prime Minister Ardern said, "We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the fact that we are none of these things. It was because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values." To the terrorist, she added, "You have chosen us but we utterly reject and condemn you."
Denise Youngblood Coleman, PhD.
President and Editor in Chief
-- March 18, 2019