World Reacts With Sadness, Anger to New Zealand Mass Shootings

LONDON (Reuters) -
Police stand guard after Friday’s mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday. (Reuters/Jorge Silva)

Leaders and organizations around the world expressed disgust and sorrow at the killing of 49 people in shootings at two New Zealand mosques on Friday.

Western leaders from Donald Trump to Angela Merkel expressed solidarity with New Zealanders, deploring what the White House called a “vicious act of hate.”

The response from some Muslim countries went further, blaming politicians and the media for stoking that hatred. The nationalities of the victims included Indian, Pakistani, Malaysian, Indonesian, Egyptian, Bangladeshi, Saudi, Somalian and Turkish, authorities said.

New Zealand police said 49 people were killed and 42 were being treated for wounds, including a four-year-old child. Three people were in custody including one man who has been charged with murder, police said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said some of the victims may have been new immigrants or refugees.

“They are us,” she said. “The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand.”

Trump, following a phone call with Ardern, said on Twitter: “… I informed the Prime Minister … that we stand in solidarity with New Zealand – and that any assistance the U.S.A. can give, we stand by ready to help. We love you New Zealand!”

The accused gunman’s manifesto posted online praised Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

Asked by a reporter if he thought white nationalism is a rising threat around the world, Trump said, “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.”

Trump said he had not seen the gunman’s manifesto.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said an Australian national arrested after the attack was an “extremist, right-wing violent terrorist.”

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, who is New Zealand’s head of state, said she was “deeply saddened by the appalling events.”

German Chancellor Merkel mourned “with the New Zealanders for their fellow citizens who were attacked and murdered out of racist hatred while peacefully [gathering] in their mosques.” Her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said, “When people are murdered solely because of their religion, this is an attack on us all.”

Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, said Londoners stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Christchurch. He also pointed his finger at those who promote religious hatred: “When the flames of hatred are fanned, when people are demonized because of their faith, when people’s fears are played on rather than addressed, the consequences are deadly, as we have seen so sadly today,” he said.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said the attack brought back memories of the 2011 attack by anti-Muslim extremist Anders Breivik that killed 77 people: “It shows that extremism is nurtured and that it lives in many places.”