LOS ANGELES,CA, ( 3/16/19) — From total shock and disbelief to prayers for victims, the country of New Zealand and the whole world has struggled to cope with the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre.
Some families still wait to learn the fate of unaccounted for victims, after an alleged right-wing gunman killed 50 worshipers in two mosques Friday. Others, freshly grieving, struggle to get medical examiners to release loved ones’ remains in time to meet Islamic rules for quick burial.
More than three dozen remained hospitalized over the weekend, many in intensive care. It was the city’s worst toll of death and injury since a lunchtime earthquake devastated swaths of the city and killed 185 people in 2011. To many, the hate-fueled violence of Friday’s attack was an even more painful blow.
Police were still processing the pair of massive, crosstown crime scenes as investigators began sifting the background of primary suspect Brenton Harrison Tarrant — a puzzling mix of global travel and insular hatred — who made his first court appearance Saturday.
Police named Tarrant the primary suspect in what was called the deadliest attack in New Zealand history — and one of the worst cases of right-wing terrorism in years — after he allegedly stormed the two houses of worship during midday prayers and mowed down dozens of huddling and fleeing worshipers while he live-streamed the killing over social media with a body-mounted camera.
"We pray for the victims of the mass shootings at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque and stand in solidarity with the New Zealand Muslim community as they go through this tragedy," stated the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "The victims of this act of mass violence were innocent people gathered for their congregational prayers, just as those in Quebec, Pittsburgh and Charleston were."
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.” The Islamic Circle of Australia and New Zealand stated “Terrorist acts like this demand detailed investigation and strong action from the police department, relevant investigation agencies and the government. The root-causes of such incidents are required to be identified and eliminated. The increasing Islamophobia in Australia and New Zealand is one of the major concerns and needs to be tackled at the highest level.”
Stories about heroes from the Christchurch terror attacks have also began to surface. One of them was Naeem Rashid. Halfway through the New Zealand shooting, as dozens around him lay dying, he rushed the shooter unarmed, doing whatever he could to make him stop. Both he and his son died.
Media sources have reported that the gunmen appeared to be white supremacists who were “avenging the invasion of Europe” by Muslims.
President Donald Trump responded to the attack by claiming that he didn’t see white nationalism as a rising threat around the world. The Washington Post editorial board on Friday called out President Trump’s response to the mass shootings at the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“That’s the wrong message,” the Post’s board wrote. “Instead, he ought to state unambiguously that the New Zealand suspect’s ‘replacement’ ideology is an unacceptable trope in civilized discourse.”
"Trump never tweeted an Expression of condolences to Muslim community after 49 murdered in New Zealand," noted Muslim Journal editor Ayesha K. Mustafa. "He never condemned White nationalism! Remember how he wanted Obama to say "Islamic terrorists" - that you can't defeat what you can't name."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting Muslim Americans, immigrants and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president and has repeatedly expressed concern about "Islamophobic, white supremacist and racist Trump administration policies and appointments."
The Islamic Circle of North America has made an appeal to all in New Zealand and everywhere else to come together at this difficult time to stamp out the evil of Islamophobia and other hatred based on race and religion.