World leaders react with horror to the deadly attacks at two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayers.
Political and religious leaders from across the world have expressed their condemnation at the deadly shooting at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Forty-nine people were killed and at least 48 suffered serious injuries in the shootings targeting the mosques during Friday prayers.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the shootings appeared to be a well-planned “terrorist attack”.
Police said three men and a woman were in custody in connection with the attacks.
The timing of the shootings and the posting on social media of what appeared to be live, point-of-view video footage of the assault by a gunman, added to the distress of many.
Here is how political leaders around the world reacted soon after the incident.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the deadly attack on the mosques, describing them as “the latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.”
“With this attack, hostility towards Islam, that the world has been idly watching and even encouraging for some time, has gone beyond individual harassment to reach the level of mass killing,” Erdogan said at the funeral of a former Turkish minister.
“It is clear that the understanding represented by the killer that also targets our country, our people and myself, has started to take over Western societies like a cancer.”
Erdogan’s spokesman separately condemned what he called a “racist and fascist” attack.
“This attack shows the point which hostility to Islam and enmity to Muslims has reached,” Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.
“We have seen many times Islamophobic discourse against Islam and Muslims turning into a perverse and murderous ideology. The world must raise its voice against such discourse and must say stop to Islamophobic fascist terrorism,” he said.
Afghanistan’s ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, Wahidullah Waissi, said on Twitter three Afghans had been wounded.
“My thoughts are with the family of Afghan origin who’ve been shot and killed at this heinous incident.”
Organization of Islamic Cooperation
The Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the attack “served as a further warning on the obvious dangers of hate, intolerance, and Islamophobia.”
OIC’s Secretary General, Youssef al-Othaimeen, urged the New Zealand government to provide more protection to Muslim communities living in the country.
Al-Azhar University in Egypt
Al-Azhar, the world’s foremost Sunni Islamic institution and university, said the attacks reflects an “escalation of the discourse of hate, xenophobia and Islamophobia” in Western countries.
Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of the Cairo-based institution, condemned “the atrocious terrorist attack,” and conveyed his condolences to the families of those killed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed sorrow over the “citizens who were attacked and murdered out of racist hatred” in attacks on the mosques.
“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”.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the incident “beyond awful” and called Muslims a “valued part” of Scottish society.
“Innocent people being murdered as they worship is horrific and heartbreaking. My thoughts and solidarity are with New Zealand’s Muslim community and all of its people on this dark day,” she tweeted.
She added: “Today, at mosques across Scotland and elsewhere, Muslims will attend Friday prayers. They are a valued part of our diverse and multicultural society. It is terrorists who commit acts such as who offend our values as a society. We must stand against Islamophobia and all hate.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country stood with New Zealand after the tragic attack.
“We stand here and condemn, absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist,” Morrison told a press conference.
He confirmed media reports that the gunman who mowed down worshippers in the main mosque in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch was an Australian-born citizen, without providing further details.
“We are not just allies, we are not just partners, we are family,” he said.
“It is such a sad and devastating reminder of the evil that can be ever present about us,” Morrison said of the attacks.
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