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Christchurch, New Zealand mosque attacks

Christchurch, New Zealand mosque attacks



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On the afternoon of March 15, 2019, a gunman attacked two different mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand during Friday Prayer, killing 51, wounding 40, and deeply scarring a nation that had, until this point, believed itself to be safe from the scourges of gun violence and far-right terrorism. It was one of the darkest and deadliest days in New Zealand’s history.

The gunman, an Australian with ties to the racist and xenophobic Identitarian Movement in his native country, opened fire at the Al Noor Mosque around 1:40pm, while several hundred people were inside for Friday Prayer. After several minutes of indiscriminate gunfire, he drove about three miles to the Linwood Islamic Center, where he repeated his actions but inflicted less damage, partially due to the efforts of a worshipper who attacked the gunman and successfully captured one of his guns. The assailant fled but was captured less than half an hour after he began his attack.

As news of the massacre spread across the globe, authorities discovered the shooter's manifesto, which professed his racist and xenophobic beliefs, positively referenced the genocide of Bosnian Muslims and called U.S. President Donald Trump "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose." In contrast to the United States, where mass shootings have become common, the incident was the first mass shooting in New Zealand since 1997. Also in contrast to the United States, the government of New Zealand vowed to implement new laws that would help prevent such a stunning act of violence from occurring again.

The administration of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the world's youngest female head of government, prioritized gun control in the immediate aftermath, creating a commission to study the issue. The next month, the government passed a law banning semi-automatic weapons and their components and instituting a buy-back period for weapons that would become illegal. By the end of the year, the government had received over 56,000 guns and over 194,000 gun parts.


Cricket team escapes attack

The attack happened as players from the visiting Bangladesh national cricket team were on their way to pray at Al Noor mosque.

They were "minutes" from being inside, team manager Khaled Mashud told the BBC.

Bangladesh was due to play New Zealand on Saturday but the match has been cancelled.

He added that the team were all "safe and sound" at their hotel but would travel home "in the coming days".

"Players were crying in the bus, they all were mentally affected," the former wicketkeeper said.


New Zealand marks two years since Christchurch mosque killings

Several hundred gathered at the Christchurch Arena for the remembrance service, which was also livestreamed.

New Zealand has marked the second anniversary of one of its most traumatic days, when 51 worshippers were killed at two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist gunman.

Several hundred people gathered at the Christchurch Arena on Saturday for the remembrance service, which was also livestreamed.

Kiran Munir, whose husband Haroon Mahmood was killed in the attacks, told the crowd she had lost the love of her life and her soulmate.

She said her husband was a loving father of their two children. He had just finished a doctoral degree and was looking forward to his graduation ceremony when she last saw his smiling face.

“Little did I know that the next time I would see him the body and soul would not be together,” she said. “Little did I know that the darkest day in New Zealand’s history had dawned. That day my heart broke into a thousand pieces, just like the hearts of the 50 other families.”

In the March 15, 2019, attacks, Australian Brenton Tarrant killed 44 people at the Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers before driving to the Linwood mosque, where he killed seven more.

Last year Tarrant, 30, pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism, He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After the attacks, New Zealand quickly passed new laws banning the deadliest types of semiautomatic weapons.

In the March 15, 2019, attacks, Australian Brenton Tarrant killed 44 people at the Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers before driving to the Linwood mosque, where he killed seven more [Sanka Vidanagama/AFP] Temel Atacocugu, who survived being shot nine times during the attack on the Al Noor mosque, said the slaughter was caused by racism and ignorance.

“They were attacks on all of humanity,” he said, adding that the survivors would never be able to erase the pain in their hearts. “However, the future is in our hands. We will go on and we will be positive together.”

Atacocugu wept as he recalled waiting to be treated with the father of three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim when they learned the toddler had died.

“Suddenly, my pain seemed insignificant,” he said.

During the service, the names of each of the 51 people killed were read out. The efforts of first responders, including police and medics, were also acknowledged.

Maha Elmadani, who lost her 66-year-old father Ali Mah’d Elmadani in the attacks, spoke at the service on behalf of the affected Muslim youth.

“The pain of losing these 51 lives not only impacted the people of Christchurch, the pain ripped through New Zealand and the rest of the world and continues to be felt,” Elmadani said.

A woman leaves after attending a national remembrance service in Christchurch [Sanka Vidanagama/AFP] Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the crowd that when preparing her speech, she had been at a loss for what to say because words would never change what happened.

“But while words cannot perform miracles, they do have the power to heal,” she said. “There will be an unquestionable legacy from March 15. Much of it will be heartbreaking. But it is never too early or too late for the legacy to be a more inclusive nation.”

Ardern, who was widely praised for the compassion shown to survivors and the families of the victims of the shooting and her swift move to tighten firearms control in New Zealand, said words “despite their healing power” would never change what happened.

“Men, women and children … were taken in an act of terror. Words will not remove the fear that descended over the Muslim community,” she said, adding the legacy should be “a more inclusive nation, one that stands proud of our diversity and embraces it and, if called to, defend it staunchly.”


'Very raw': New Zealand's Arden pans movie about Christchurch mosque attacks

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wears a concerned expression on her face. Photo: AFP/ File

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday criticised a film planned about the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks, saying that it's not the right time to make such a movie and that it focussed on the wrong subject.

The US-backed film "They Are Us" has sparked an intense backlash among New Zealand Muslims, with community leaders slamming the project for pushing a "white saviour" narrative.

Ardern said the attacks — when a white supremacist gunman ran amok at two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 51 and seriously injuring another 40 — remained "very raw" for many New Zealanders.

She said filmmakers had not consulted her about the movie, which is set to star Australia's Rose Byrne as the centre-left leader.

"In my view, which is a personal view, it feels very soon and very raw for New Zealand," Ardern told TVNZ.

"And while there are so many stories that should be told at some point, I don't consider mine to be one of them — they are the community´s stories, the families' stories."

Ardern won widespread praise for her empathetic and inclusive handling of the attacks, the worst mass shooting in modern New Zealand history, including wearing a scarf when meeting mourners.

The movie's title references a line from a speech she gave in the immediate aftermath of the atrocity when she pledged to support the Muslim community and tighten gun laws.

A petition from the National Islamic Youth Association calling for the production to be shut down has gathered more than 58,000 signatures.

The association said the proposed film "sidelines the victims and survivors and instead centres the response of a white woman".

It said the Muslim community had not been properly consulted about the project, which has been scripted by New Zealand writer Andrew Niccol.

"Entities and individuals should not seek to commercialise or profit from a tragedy that befell our community, neither should such an atrocity be sensationalised", association co-chair Haris Murtaza said.

Muslim poet Mohamed Hassan said the filmmakers needed to focus on members of the community that bore the brunt of the attacks, not use them as props in a feel-good story about Ardern.

"You do not get to tell this story. You do not get to turn this into a White Saviour narrative. This is not yours," he tweeted.

The attacker, Australian self-declared white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, was jailed for life without parole last year, the first time a whole-of-life term has been imposed in New Zealand.


New Zealand remembers mosque attacks

Temel Atacocugu, who survived being shot nine times during the 2019 attack on the Al Noor mosque, cries Saturday as he speaks at the remembrance service in Christchurch, New Zealand. (AP/Pool/Kai Schwoerer)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand on Saturday marked the second anniversary of one of its most traumatic days, when 51 worshippers were killed at two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist gunman.

Several hundred people gathered at the Christchurch Arena for the remembrance service, which was also livestreamed. A similar service planned for last year was canceled because of the sudden spread of the coronavirus.

Kiran Munir, whose husband, Haroon Mahmood, was killed in the attacks, told the crowd that she had lost the love of her life and her soulmate. She said her husband was a loving father to their two children. He'd just finished a doctoral degree and was looking forward to his graduation ceremony when she last saw his smiling face.

"Little did I know that the next time I would see him, the body and soul would not be together," she said. "Little did I know that the darkest day in New Zealand's history had dawned. That day, my heart broke into a thousand pieces, just like the hearts of the 50 other families."

Temel Atacocugu, who survived being shot nine times during the attack on the Al Noor mosque, said the slaughter was caused by racism and ignorance.

"They were attacks on all of humanity," he said.

He said the survivors would never be able to erase the pain in their hearts and would never be the same.

"However, the future is in our hands," he said. "We will go on, and we will be positive together."

In the March 15, 2019, attacks, Australian Brenton Tarrant killed 44 people at the Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers before driving to the Linwood mosque, where he killed seven more.

Tarrant, 30, pleaded guilty last year to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After the attacks, New Zealand quickly passed new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

During the service, the names of each of the 51 people who were killed were read out. The efforts of first responders, including police and medics, were also acknowledged.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the crowd that when preparing her speech, she had been at a loss for what to say because words would never change what happened.

"But while words cannot perform miracles, they do have the power to heal," she said.

The Muslim community had experienced hatred and racism even before the attacks, she said, and words should be used for change.

"There will be an unquestionable legacy from March 15," Ardern said. "Much of it will be heartbreaking. But it is never too early or too late for the legacy to be a more inclusive nation."


'Some disturbing news from Christchurch'

When enough details came in about what was unfolding in Christchurch, Newshub delivered a live broadcast to offer viewers insight into the unfolding tragedy.

McCann's first words "Kia ora good afternoon. We are breaking into normal programming right now for some disturbing news from Christchurch".

Like his colleagues in Christchurch, McCann says he was in autopilot mode with not a lot of time to really let the reality sink in.

"There was one moment where we were in an ad break - we'd been on air probably an hour at that time. In the ad break the autocue which the newsreader reads off flashed 'refresh' with new information that producers had just written.

"We had been saying six people had died. The autocue said 'Newshub understands 26 people have now died'.

"Even now you get goosebumps thinking about it. Just this cold chill of 'okay, this is what we're dealing with now.'"

That, McCann says, was a moment he'll never forget.

"Looking back now I think that could be the biggest story I ever read on.

"We just did not expect that to happen here - it was a shock at the time and it's still a shock now that it happened in Christchurch - somewhere where I grew up.

"As we found out it had a huge impact on everyone. It begs belief really."

Cropper continued to front international live-crosses in the coming days - this time from the flower wall outside Christchurch's Botanic Gardens.

"Just seeing all that local community rally behind everyone who had been affected - it was in my hometown and I was watching people I knew coming up and laying flowers - I think in my mind I'll always remember that forever," she says.

"The outpouring of love and support for those who had been injured, killed, or affected by what had happened was so incredible by everyone in Christchurch and around the country as well as the world."


Christchurch mosque terror attack: What you need to know

Fifty people have died in the Christchurch mosque shooting, the worst terror attack in New Zealand history.

Here's what you need to know.

Flowers outside Al Huda Mosque in Dunedin. Vigils have been held in Christchurch, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Whanganui and Dunedin, with the largest in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

What happened?

There were two attacks on Friday in Christchurch - one at the Al Noor Mosque next to Hagley Park, and one at the Linwood Mosque.

Fifty people died, seven at Linwood Mosque and 42 at Al Noor Mosque. One person died later in Christchurch Hospital.

The dead include a five-year-old girl and her father, who were chased by the gunman and shot in front of horrified passers-by.

Fifty people were also injured. One child, a four-year-old girl, remains at Starship Hospital.

The national security threat level has been increased from low to high for the first time in New Zealand's history.

Who has been charged?

Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder, and more charges are likely. He has been remanded in custody until 5 April when he will appear in the high court.

An 18-year-old man will appear in court today accused of distributing the live stream of the Christchurch shootings. Police said one other person arrested on Friday was facing charges not directly related to the events.

What is happening today?

Counter-terror police in Australia raided two homes in New South Wales today as part of an investigation into the killings. The family the accused gunman continue to assist with the investigation, Australian police said.

The first bodies of victims are being returned to their families, who are preparing to bury them as quickly as possible, in accordance with Muslim tradition.

Members of the Linwood Islamic Centre, the scene of the second mosque shooting, gathered this morning to bless the building.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy opened two condolence books in Parliament's Grand Hall.

Students have returned to school in Christchurch for the first time since they spent more than three hours in lockdown as the attack unfolded. Education Secretary Iona Holsted said traumatic incident teams are going into 14 schools today and four early childhood centres have specialists on site. She said 44 schools had asked for help.

Christchurch District Health Board says all out-patient appointments will go ahead as usual this week. Christchurch Hospital is still caring for many of those injured in Friday's attack.

Marae in and around Christchurch have been closed for security reasons on police advice. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai said when doors re-open Tuahiwi, Rāpaki and Ngā Hau e Whā marae will be offered to the Muslim community to gather, to pray, or for overnight accommodation.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said there would be a heavy police presence around the country today to ensure New Zealanders' safety.

Free counselling is starting today at the Canterbury Charity Hospital for those who would like it.

Vigils and commemorations around the country

Yesterday evening an estimated 12,000 people turned out in Wellington to show their respects for the Christchurch victims and their families.

  • A memorial service will be held the Napier Soundshell on Marine Parade at 1pm on Monday, 18 March.
  • Hastings will also have one at the same time at the Hastings City Centre Clocktower.
  • In Auckland, St Matthew's on the corner of Wellesley and Hobson Streets is is hosting an event from 5-8pm on Monday 18 March.
  • The Queenstown Lakes District Council will host candlelight vigils in Queenstown and Wanaka from 6pm Monday 18 March.
  • A vigil will be held at Cathedral Square in Christchurch at 8.30pm on Thursday, 21 March.
  • Amnesty International's Otago University branch is holding a vigil from 7pm on Thursday 21 March at the Octagon.
  • The Jummah Remembrance: Vigil for Lives Taken in Christchurch will be held at Aotea Square in Auckland at 6pm on Friday, 22 March.
  • An anti-Islamophobia rally, Kia Kaha Aotearoa: Stand Against Racism, will be held at Aotea Square in Auckland at 2pm on Sunday, 24 March.

Essential contacts

Victim Support has set up a Givealittle page has been set up for victims and their families following the attack. By Monday morning it had raised more than $5 million.

Those who have a missing family member are urged to go the Restoring Family Links (RFL) website, where they can register missing persons or register themselves as alive.

Missing persons can also be registered on 0800 115 019. A member of the police will be in contact thereafter.

Police launched a 'Tell Police' form on their website for anyone who wants to give them information on the attacks.

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.


Plans for movie on New Zealand mosque attacks draw criticism

1 of 8 FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2020, file photo, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during an interviewed in her office at the parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. Tentative plans for a movie that recounts the response of Ardern to a gunman's slaughter of Muslim worshippers drew criticism in New Zealand on Friday, June 11, 2021 for not focusing on the victims of the attacks. Sam James/AP Show More Show Less

2 of 8 FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2019, file photo, Rose Byrne attends the world premiere of "The Irishman" at Alice Tully Hall during the opening night of the 57th New York Film Festival in New York. Hollywood news outlet Deadline reported that Byrne was set to play New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the movie “They Are Us,” which was being shopped by New York-based FilmNation Entertainment to international buyers. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) Evan Agostini/Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Show More Show Less

4 of 8 FILE - In this Sept. 4, 2014, file photo, director Andrew Niccol poses for portraits during the 71st edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy. Hollywood news outlet Deadline reported that Niccol would write and direct the movie “They Are Us,” which was being shopped by New York-based FilmNation Entertainment to international buyers. Domenico Stinellis/AP Show More Show Less

5 of 8 FILE - In this March 15, 2019, file photo, ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand. Tentative plans for a movie that recounts the response of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to a gunman's slaughter of Muslim worshippers drew criticism in New Zealand on Friday, June 11, 2021 for not focusing on the victims of the attacks. Mark Baker/AP Show More Show Less

7 of 8 FILE - In this March 15, 2019, file photo, police attempt to clear people from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand. Tentative plans for a movie that recounts the response of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to a gunman's slaughter of Muslim worshippers drew criticism in New Zealand on Friday, June 11, 2021 for not focusing on the victims of the attacks. Mark Baker/AP Show More Show Less

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) &mdash Tentative plans for a movie that recounts the response of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to a gunman's slaughter of Muslim worshippers drew criticism in New Zealand on Friday for not focusing on the victims of the attacks.

Hollywood news outlet Deadline reported that Australian actor Rose Byrne was set to play Ardern in the movie &ldquoThey Are Us,&rdquo which was being shopped by New York-based FilmNation Entertainment to international buyers.

The movie would be set in the days after the 2019 attacks in which 51 people were killed at two Christchurch mosques.

Deadline said the movie would follow Ardern's response to the attacks and how people rallied behind her message of compassion and unity, and her successful call to ban the deadliest types of semiautomatic weapons.

The title of the movie comes from the words Ardern spoke in a landmark address soon after the attacks. At the time, Ardern was praised around the world for her response.

But many in New Zealand are raising concerns about the movie plans.

Aya Al-Umari, whose older brother Hussein was killed in the attacks, wrote on Twitter simply &ldquoYeah nah,&rdquo a New Zealand phrase meaning &ldquoNo.&rdquo

Abdigani Ali, a spokesperson for the Muslim Association of Canterbury, said the community recognized the story of the attacks needed to be told &ldquobut we would want to ensure that it&rsquos done in an appropriate, authentic, and sensitive matter.&rdquo

Tina Ngata, an author and advocate, was more blunt, tweeting that the slaughter of Muslims should not be the backdrop for a film about "white woman strength. COME ON.&rdquo

Ardern&rsquos office said in a brief statement that the prime minister and her government have no involvement with the movie.

Deadline reported that New Zealander Andrew Niccol would write and direct the project and that the script was developed in consultation with several members of the mosques affected by the tragedy.

Niccol said the film wasn't so much about the attacks but more the response.

&ldquoThe film addresses our common humanity, which is why I think it will speak to people around the world," Niccol told Deadline. "It is an example of how we should respond when there&rsquos an attack on our fellow human beings.&rdquo

Byrne's agents and FilmNation did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The report said the project would be filmed in New Zealand but did not say when.

Niccol is known for writing and directing &ldquoGattaca&rdquo and writing &ldquoThe Terminal" and &ldquoThe Truman Show,&rdquo for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

Byrne is known for roles in &ldquoSpy&rdquo and &ldquoBridesmaids.&rdquo


New Zealand remembers mosque attacks

Temel Atacocugu, who survived being shot nine times during the 2019 attack on the Al Noor mosque, cries Saturday as he speaks at the remembrance service in Christchurch, New Zealand. (AP/Pool/Kai Schwoerer)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand on Saturday marked the second anniversary of one of its most traumatic days, when 51 worshippers were killed at two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist gunman.

Several hundred people gathered at the Christchurch Arena for the remembrance service, which was also livestreamed. A similar service planned for last year was canceled because of the sudden spread of the coronavirus.

Kiran Munir, whose husband, Haroon Mahmood, was killed in the attacks, told the crowd that she had lost the love of her life and her soulmate. She said her husband was a loving father to their two children. He'd just finished a doctoral degree and was looking forward to his graduation ceremony when she last saw his smiling face.

"Little did I know that the next time I would see him, the body and soul would not be together," she said. "Little did I know that the darkest day in New Zealand's history had dawned. That day, my heart broke into a thousand pieces, just like the hearts of the 50 other families."

Temel Atacocugu, who survived being shot nine times during the attack on the Al Noor mosque, said the slaughter was caused by racism and ignorance.

"They were attacks on all of humanity," he said.

He said the survivors would never be able to erase the pain in their hearts and would never be the same.

"However, the future is in our hands," he said. "We will go on, and we will be positive together."

In the March 15, 2019, attacks, Australian Brenton Tarrant killed 44 people at the Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers before driving to the Linwood mosque, where he killed seven more.

Tarrant, 30, pleaded guilty last year to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After the attacks, New Zealand quickly passed new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

During the service, the names of each of the 51 people who were killed were read out. The efforts of first responders, including police and medics, were also acknowledged.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the crowd that when preparing her speech, she had been at a loss for what to say because words would never change what happened.

"But while words cannot perform miracles, they do have the power to heal," she said.

The Muslim community had experienced hatred and racism even before the attacks, she said, and words should be used for change.

"There will be an unquestionable legacy from March 15," Ardern said. "Much of it will be heartbreaking. But it is never too early or too late for the legacy to be a more inclusive nation."


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&ldquoHowever, the future is in our hands,&rdquo he said. &ldquoWe will go on and we will be positive together.&rdquo

In the March 15, 2019, Australian Brenton Tarrant killed 44 people at the Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers before driving to the Linwood mosque, where he killed seven more.

Last year Tarrant, 30, pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After the attacks, New Zealand quickly passed new laws banning the deadliest types of semiautomatic weapons.

During the service, the names of each of the 51 people who were killed were read out. The efforts of first responders, including police and medics, were also acknowledged.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the crowd that when preparing her speech, she had been at a loss for what to say because words would never change what happened.

&ldquoBut while words cannot perform miracles, they do have the power to heal,&rdquo she said.

The Muslim community had experienced hatred and racism even before the attacks, she said, and words should be used for change.

&ldquoThere will be an unquestionable legacy from March 15,&rdquo Ardern said. &ldquoMuch of it will be heartbreaking. But it is never too early or too late for the legacy to be a more inclusive nation.&rdquo