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, attacks that many blamed on the demonization of Muslims by the West.
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.
“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 (where) 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote on social media.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the attack was a result of Muslims being demonized. “Not only the perpetrators, but also politicians & media that fuel the already escalated Islamophobia and hate in the West are equally responsible for this heinous attack,” he tweeted.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated “the urgency of working better together globally to counter Islamophobia and eliminate intolerance and violent extremism in all its forms,” a spokesman said.
Hundreds of protesters in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, chanted “Allahu akbar!” (God is Greatest) after Friday prayers.
“We will not let the blood of Muslims go in vain,” said one protester. Members of the Bangladesh national cricket team, in Christchurch for a match against New Zealand, arrived for Friday prayers as the shooting started but were not hurt.
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.