This Thursday at least 49 people were killed in New Zealand, during mass shootings at two different mosques. The shooter was reportedly a white supremacist with a grudge against Muslims who was upset about the immigration policies in the western world, which he believed were too lax.
The shooter was very public about the attack, publishing a post to 8chan warning other extremists about his plot, and sharing a link to Facebook live where he streamed the attack. The shooter also posted a manifesto which described his desires to spark a worldwide civil war between different races and ethnicities.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that it was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said.
“I want to send a message to those directly affected…For many this may have not been the place they were born. For many New Zealand was their choice, a place they actively came to and committed themselves to…it was a place where many came to for their safety. A place where it was safe to practice their culture and religion. We represent diversity and compassion, a home for those who share our values, a refuge for those who need it. And those values will not and can not be shaken by this attack,” the Prime Minister said in a statement.
The shooter had a Facebook profile under the name of Brenton Tarrant where he live-streamed the incident and published his 74-page manifesto. The man identified himself as a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist and said that he was seeking to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims. Before the shooting, the gunman also said that he was inspired by Norway mass murderer Anders Breivik.
The killer live streamed his massacre at Christchurch’s Al Noor Mosque where he killed 41 people before moving on to a different mosque nearby and killing several more. The police have not specified if there was a second shooter in the attack to help carry out the massacre at two separate locations.
Just in case there is danger of additional threats, the prime minister raised the national threat level from low to high, and police have warned Muslims against going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand. However, thousands of Muslims have defied the threat level warning and are praying across the country.
Truly extraordinary scene at Lakemba mosque tonight. Worshippers spilling on to the street. Deep sense of sadness and mourning. A number of politicians here in support inc @DavidColemanMP @michaeldaleyMP @GladysB @JasonClareMP and many more. @7NewsSydney #TheLatest pic.twitter.com/PeCTURhcOC
— Alex Hart (@alexhart7) March 15, 2019
A young woman at one of the prayer sessions told the Daily Mail, “I’m confused as to how and why someone would do this [terrorist attack]. It’s more important than ever for us to attend prayers. Now is the most important time. It’s always been an issue but nothing’s been done. It’s the most important time to stand together.”
Inside the mosque. Pleas for calm from all. Attack “Not acceptable.. beyond any imagination”. pic.twitter.com/tI7J50ddEg
— Alex Hart (@alexhart7) March 15, 2019
A speaker at the mosque reportedly told the crowd, “People are very extremist in their thinking. They want revenge from nothing. They think by doing something like that is revenge. We need our government to take some action. We need to see our politicians and police doing their job in a good way. We put our hands with our politicians especially the good ones. This is an act of terror targeted towards Muslims at the time of their prayers. Not going to close the doors of our mosques and we’ll continue our daily prayers. We’ll stand in solidarity.”
Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Neil Basu, said that they will be stepping up security around the mosques to protect people from additional threats.
“Today we will be stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques and increasing engagement with communities of all faith, giving advice on how people and places can protect themselves,” Basu said.
Survivors at the mosque say the gunman was stopped by an unnamed hero who wrestled the gun away from the attacker.
Survivor Syed Mazharuddin told the NZ Herald: “The young guy who usually takes care of the mosque … he saw an opportunity and pounced on (the gunman) and took his gun. The hero tried to chase, and he couldn’t find the trigger in the gun … he ran behind him but there were people waiting for him in the car, and he fled.”
Four people have been arrested as suspects in the attack, although there was only one shooter. It is assumed that the other suspects were possibly the shooter’ get-away drivers.