Leaders around the world expressed disgust and sorrow at the killing of at least 49 people in New Zealand mosques on Friday, and some also expressed anger at what they described as the demonisation that fuelled such attacks.
Western leaders, from Donald Trump to Angela Merkel, expressed solidarity with the people of New Zealand and deplored what the White House called an “act of hate”. The response from some Muslim countries went further, blaming politicians and the media for stoking that hatred.
“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 Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the attack was a result of Muslims being demonised. “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.
Protests in Dhaka
Hundreds of angry protesters in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, 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, had arrived for Friday prayers as the shooting started but were not injured.
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.”
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, who is New Zealand’s head of state, said she was “deeply saddened by the appalling events”. Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim Mayor of London, said Londoners stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Christchurch. He also pointed his finger at those who promote religious hatred. The Palestinian chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, called the attack a “consequence of racist ideologies that continue trying to promote religious wars”.