50 People Killed By White Supremacist in Two New Zealand Mosques

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50 People Killed By White Supremacist in Two New Zealand Mosques

Maggee Chang, Staff Writer

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In Christchurch, New Zealand, a gunman approached the Al Noor Mosque with his visible firearm on March 15. Within two minutes, the gunman killed forty-one worshipers who were there to conduct Friday prayer. Then, the gunman drove three miles to another mosque, Linwood mosque, and killed another seven. Another fifty, including bystanders on the street, were injured. Several young children are among the injured. Thirty-six of the fifty injured have been hospitalized; two victims are in critical condition. This act of terrorism was the worst mass shooting in New Zealand history. Seventeen minutes of the gunman’s attack was livestreamed on Facebook. The video was shared and could be found on Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter. A white nationalist manifesto was posted onto several social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and 8chan, a popular forum for right-wing discussions.

A 28-year-old Australian man named Brenton Harrison Tarrant has been arrested on murder charges and appeared in court the following morning. Tarrant had posted a seventy-four page manifesto on a right-wing forum, along with a Facebook link to watch the video of the attack. One woman and three other men had been arrested on the possible suspicion of involvement, including an 18-year-old named Daniel John Burrough with the “intent to excite hostility or ill-will.” New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed that there were only three individuals under custody besides Tarrant, meaning someone had been released. Little details have been released about the three individuals.

Tarrant, the main suspect in this horrific crime, has an alarming social media presence, with joking posts that allude to white nationalist humor and rhetoric. Authorities have also noticed the suspect’s high interest in eurocentric history, fitting white nationalism’s narrative. Many names of white terrorists and military leaders that fought against non-white adversaries were inscribed on the semi-automatic weapons that killed the fifty of Christchurch.

The beginning of the attack was filmed on a camera mounted on top of the gunman’s helmet. At first, the man was at the wheel, driving to the mosque, and refers to internet memes and racially-charged humor. Footage showed the man walking into the mosque, being greeted as a ‘brother’ by a Muslim at the entrance, and the eventual mass murder of Muslims. Survivors account for many Muslim worshipers shielding one another and trying to run. Along with this gruesome footage, a seventy-four page manifesto with themes of racial divide, white nationalism, and violence was posted. The author of this manifesto, which is still unconfirmed to be Tarrant, alludes to President Donald Trump as his inspiration and wishes that his attack will “agitate the political enemies of my people into action, to cause them to overextend their own hand and experience the eventual and inevitable backlash as a result.” The author believes non-white people are trying to “replace” white people and further discusses birth rates and other population-focused rhetoric. He declared himself a fascist. The reason for the use of guns is also written– he wanted the United States to divide over the polarizing issue of gun laws.

Prime minister Jacinda Arden released a public statement at a press conference, one of unity and condemnation of the terrorism that occurred in Christchurch mosques: “We [New Zealand] are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages, and among that diversity we share common values. And the one that we place a currency on right now and tonight is our compassion and the support for the community of those directly affected by this tragedy. And secondly, the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this. You may have chosen us, but we utterly reject and condemn you.” She also said President Donald Trump was among numerous world leaders that had called her earlier that morning on the behalf of their nations, to offer support and condolences. When President Trump asked of what the U.S. could provide in wake of this tragedy, Arden said, “My message was sympathy, and love for all Muslim communities.” On Saturday afternoon, Arden went to community centers for Muslims and reassured many of the victims’ families will be provided government assistance, due to the majority of the deceased were male and/or breadwinners. Less than twenty-four hours after the attack, New Zealand announced its official ban on all semi-automatic weapons.

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