Members of the Muslim community all over the world expressed their horror at the brutal mass shootings at a pair of mosques in New Zealand and mourned the dozens of worshipers gunned down while they attended Friday prayer.
Authorities said at least 49 people were killed in the deadly attacks, the first of which unfolded around 1:45 p.m. at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch. The second shooting occurred at Linwood Masjid Mosque, also located in Christchurch, a city of nearly 400,000 people on New Island’s South Island.
One person was charged with murder and another three detained in what authorities suspect was a carefully planned attack.
CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad in a statement urged mosques, Islamic schools and other institutions in the United States and beyond to step up security measures in the wake of the shootings.
“To God we belong, and to Him is our return,” he said.
“We mourn the heartbreaking killings of men, women and children gathered for prayer in their houses of worship and urge leaders in our nation and worldwide to speak out forcefully against the growing anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate that appears to have motivated these white supremacist terrorists.”
TellMAMAUK, a UK-based group that supports Muslim victims of bigotry said in a tweet that it was “appalled” by the “mass casualties” in New Zealand.
“Anti-Muslim-hatred is fast becoming a global issue and a binding factor for extremist far right groups and individuals,” the organization said. “It is a threat that needs to be taken seriously.”
TellMAMAUK also noted the killer’s use of livestreaming during the attack, saying it adds a “further cold and ruthlessness to his actions.”
South Auckland Muslim Association Inc. similarly called on government and community leaders to “be vigilant in combating hatred against all minorities, knowing that prejudice and intolerance can pose a lethal threat to innocent life.”
“When one is attacked, we are all attacked,” the group continued, “and our whole society is affected.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said the events in Christchurch represented “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” acknowledging that many of those affected are likely immigrants and refugees.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she added.
While there was no reason to believe there were additional suspects, Arden said the national security level threat was being raised to the second highest level.
Authorities have not identified the four people arrested, but a man who claimed responsibility for the mass shootings did leave a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto, in which he also dubbed the deadly incident a terrorist attack.