Gallery: Christchurch terror: Prayers and hijabs for peace at Ponsonby

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

The massive gathering in Christchurch’s Hagley Park has reassured and uplifted their shocked community, say New Zealand Muslim leaders.

About 20,000 people gathered in Hagley Park to observe two minutes of silence and the Muslim call to prayer on Friday along with thousands more at other events across the country, including Auckland’s Domain.

Pacific Media Centre photographer Del Abcede was on hand to capture these images at Ponsonby’s Al-Masjid Al-Jamie mosque and Aotea Square on a day when women across New Zealand of all faiths reclaimed the hijab. More photos can be seen on her Facebook page.

1. Praying for peace at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

2. The crowd at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

3. Tongan flag and flowers at the Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

4. Samoan flag and flowers at the Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

5. Flowers and messages at the Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

6. Hijab power at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

7. Hijab power at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

8. Hijab power at Ponsonby Mosque. Inage: Del Abcede/PMC

9. Hijab power at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

10. Hijab power at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

11. Policeman and hijab at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

12. Priest and hijab at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

13. The Ponsonby Mosque crowd. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

14. Hijabs and Ponsonby’s Sacred Heart Church in the background. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

`15. Gang member paying his respects at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

16. Thanks to New Zealand from the Muslim community at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

17. Child and the mourning flowers at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

18. Flowers and messages at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

19. “Love and support” at Ponsonby Mosque. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

20. “Free hugs and free scarves” Aotea messages. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

21. Flowers beside the statue of former mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson in Aotea Square. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

22. Police and the hijab in Aotea Square, Auckland. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

23. Hijabs in Aotea Square. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

24. “The most merciful person is the one who forgives when he is able to take revenge.” – Imam Ali Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

NZ marks call to prayer, two-minute silence to honour mosque dead

Police guarding the AUT Masjid today added their tribute to the flowers at the entrance to the prayer room in central Auckland. Image: David Robie/PMC

By RNZ News

New Zealand today observed the Muslim call to prayer and two minutes of silence in Christchurch and across the country, one week after terror attacks that killed 50 people at two mosques in the city.

The call to prayer, the adhan, is an Islamic practice that is observed by devotees five times a day. The call to prayer took place about 1.30pm, lasting about one minute and 40 seconds.

It was attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Muslim community leaders, local iwi and international dignitaries, among others.

WATCH: RNZ’s live broadcast

Hundreds of students and staff at Auckland University of Technology paid tribute to the victims of the Christchurch mosque massacre a week ago today at the campus masjid. Video: Cafe Pacific

-Partners-

It was followed by two minutes of silence, which was observed nationally.

Al Noor Mosque imam Gamal Fouda, who survived Friday’s attacks, then spoke, telling the crowd New Zealand was unbreakable.

“We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us,” he said.

Auckland University of Technology, the country’s second largest university, marked the mourning day with several events across its three campuses across the city.

Students and staff mounted a “protective” vigil at the campus Madjid and placed flowers at the entrance.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand. The photos are by the Pacific Media Centre.

Flowers for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks at the AUT Masjid today. Image: David Robie/PMC Vigil at the AUT Masjid today. Image: David Robie/PMC Flower power at the AUT Masjid on the city campus today. Image: David Robie/PMC

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

NZ bans military-style semi-automatic weapons and all assault rifles

Armed police bedecked with flowers amid heightened national security following the Christchurch mosque attacks last Friday. Traditionazlly, New Zealand police are unarmed. Image: Sulzy/Twitter

By RNZ News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced a New Zealand ban on all military-style semi-automatic weapons and all assault rifles

She pledged the day after the terrorist massacre in Christchurch last Friday that “gun laws will change” and would be announced within 10 days of the attack.

Fifty people were killed in the bloody shooting.

READ MORE: RNZ’s tribute to the lost – ‘They are us’

#TheyAreUs

This afternoon, Ardern said every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on two mosques would be banned under more stringent gun laws.

As of 3pm today an order in council took effect. The changes to the regulations would mean the firearms were now catergorised as needing an E-class licence endorsement.

-Partners-

This means no one will be able to buy the weapons without police approval. Ardern said there was no point in applying for one.

For those who are already in possession of these weapons, Ardern said the firearms would be tightly regulated, while for everyone else, the weapons would now be effectively out of reach.

Buyback scheme
She also said the government would establish a buyback scheme to take the firearms out of circulation.

After a reasonable period for returns, those who continue to possess these firearms will be in contravention of the law.

Anyone in breach of the law would be liable to a $4000 fine or up to three years imprisonment.

“We’re looking to increase the penalty when the ban is in full force and the opportunities of buyback are over,” Ardern said.

Ardern said the buyback scheme was designed to prevent the creation of a black market for banned weapons.

She said people who held weapons illegally would be protected by a police amnesty.

“We’re in the dark as to how many of these are in circulation,” Ardern said, referring to the number of weapons the government might have to buy back.

No funding conversations
“We haven’t had specific conversations about where the funding for the buyback will come from.”

She said she was confident that the majority of New Zealanders would support the gun law changes.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said the decisive move was an interim step until legislation could be passed. That legislation is likely to be in place by April 11.

He said this measure would enable New Zealand to become a safer place.

He said police were currently preparing to take these weapons out of circulation.

Watch PM Jacinda Ardern announcing the semi-automatics ban – RNZ

Cabinet – including the Green Party – decided in principle on reforms on Monday, with the National Party said it supported change.

Legal ‘loopholes’
Ardern said on Wednesday that gun laws in New Zealand were “a blueprint of what not to do” and there was a “large number of loopholes” in the law.

The Police Association has called for semi-automatic weapons to be banned, while Fish and Game said it supported a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons.

Retailer Hunting & Fishing New Zealand has pulled all “military-style” semi-automatic firearms from sale nationwide.

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners said there was already a stringent vetting process for firearm licences in this country and military-style semi-automatic weapons should not be banned.

The alleged shooter in the terrorist attacks held a standard firearms licence that allowed him to own limited power semi-automatic weapons. Police said it was possible firearms had been modified to be more like a military-style automatic weapon.

Read a short history of New Zealand’s gun laws.

  • Key points:
    Currently, standard Category A firearms licence holders are allowed to own AR-15 semi-automatic weapons, the gun of choice for the world’s mass killers.
  • These semi-automatic weapons can be modified, such as using magazines that carry more bullets, effectively turning them into military-style semi-automatic weapons (MSSAs).
  • A semi-automatic weapon is one where the trigger must be pulled for each shot, whereas automatic weapon can fire continuously until it runs out of ammunition.
  • Currently, to secure a basic Category A licence two referees must be provided by the applicant. They are also interviewed and their gun storage checked.
  • The rules around owning MSSAs are more stringent, requiring more secure storage, a valid reason for owning one, permission from the police, and for the weapon to be registered.
  • There is currently no register of all guns and who owns them, making it impossible to see if someone is building up a cache of arms, police say.
  • There are an estimated 1,5 million guns in New Zealand and about 250,000 people hold firearms licences.
  • More than 99 percent of people who apply for a firearms licence in New Zealand are successful, according to police data.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Christchurch terror shooting: First victims buried, calls for unity

By RNZ News

As the police worked to release victims’ bodies to families by tonight, the first were buried this afternoon.

Father and son, 44-year-old Khaled Mustafa and 15-year-old Hamza, were laid to rest in a Janaza service at Memorial Park Cemetery in Linwood.

The service started at 12.30pm when the bodies arrived by hearse.

READ MORE: RNZ’s tribute to the lost – ‘They are us’

They were wrapped in cloth and carried on a board by several mourners.

At the graveside family members prayed while about 200 mourners stood some distance away. Other ceremonies took place after

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman … politicians bear some responsibility. Image: RNZ

-Partners-

Meanwhile, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman challenged Parliament to “change the way we do politics” in the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attacks.

Politicians bore some responsibility for the shootings that killed 50 people at two mosques on Friday, said Ghahraman.

‘Fanned division’
“There sit among us those who have for years fanned the flames of division, who have blamed migrants for the housing crisis,” she said.

“None of us are directly responsible for what happened on Friday – we’re all horrified – but we’re all on notice now, we have to change the way we do politics.”

Ghahraman said although the man accused of the shootings was not born in New Zealand, the ideology that led to the Christchurch mosque shootings existed in pockets of New Zealand.

This rhetoric was not mirrored in other parts of the world, as Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at a political rally, criticised the Anzacs for their role in Gallipoli. He threatened to send New Zealanders and Australians who came to his country with anti-Islam sentiment back in a casket.

“Your grandparents came here… and they returned in caskets. Have no doubt, we will send you back like your grandfathers.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison today described Erdogan’s comments as “reckless and deeply offensive”.

“I don’t find them very accurate or truthful as well because the actions of the Australian and the New Zealand governments have been consistent with our values of welcome and supporting people from all around the world.

Withdraw demand
“I have asked for these comments, particularly the reporting of the misrepresented position of Australia on Turkish television, the state-sponsored broadcaster, to be taken down.”

Morrison summoned the Turkish ambassador to Australia to his office to demand the comments be withdrawn and said further diplomatic action could follow if they were not.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern discussed Erdogan’s comments as part of a press conference in Christchurch but struck a different tone.

She said Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters would confront those issues while in Turkey.

She said she did not anticipate a change in New Zealand’s relationship with that country.

“It is so deeply entrenched. They have cared for our fallen.

“I reject the idea we are losing that relationship.”

Peters left the country yesterday, headed for Turkey after a stop in Indonesia to express his condolences for the Indonesian killed in the Christchurch attacks.

Two-minute silence
At the same press conference, Ardern said there would be two minutes of silence, with the call to prayer broadcast on RNZ and TVNZ.

A national memorial, to be held in Christchurch, was still in the planning stages she said.

“While it will be in Christchurch we want to involve the rest of New Zealand.”

Ardern spoke of her empathy with the frustration victims’ families were feeling at having to wait so long for the bodies of their loved ones to be returned.

However, she said the Muslim community had showed great compassion through this difficult time.

“Their response has been overwhelming that what they seek is justice … but overwhelming they keep reflecting back to me the sense of support they have had from the New Zealand community.

Ardern said although there were global issues involved in Friday’s attacks, such as gun control and moderation of social media content, she would continue to provide the New Zealand perspective on behalf of New Zealanders.

Many ‘loopholes’
She also said there were a “large number of loopholes” in New Zealand’s gun laws and there were a range of things to be fixed.

“Many New Zealanders would be astounded to know that you can access military-style semi-automatics.

“If I could say New Zealand was a blueprint for anything, I would say it was a blueprint of what not to do.”

Ardern hoped New Zealand could now demonstrate what could be done with gun control.

In a press conference yesterday, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police believed the accused gunman in the mosque attacks was going to commit further crimes when he was arrested.

“We absolutely believe we know where he was going and we intervened along the way.”

Friday marks a week since the attacks that killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch and as a safety precaution, many closed their doors.

Open doors
But mosques across Auckland will open their doors to the public on Friday night, their holiest day of the week, to remember the 50 lives that were lost in Christchurch.

The Ponsonby Masjid, Ranui Mosque, North Shore Islamic Centre and Masjid Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq in Pakuranga called for people of all faiths to join them and show solidarity.

Muslim Association president Ikhlaq Kashari said they wanted to encourage an atmosphere of inclusivity and openness, and an opportunity to heal as a community.

However, members of the Muslim community have emphasised that mosques are always open to the public and they were welcome any time.

More than 500 people across the country have registered to give blood since the Christchurch mosque shootings, saying they want to do what they can to help.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Online hate speech ‘gives green light’ to religion, race attacks

Hate speech … “The problem of socially-conditioned hatred is so much larger and more intricate than the capacity of any sort of censorship to control it.” Image: David Robie/PMC

By Michael Andrew

Religion and race-based attacks will continue as a result of the rise of online hate speech, says a leading New Zealand academic.

Professor Paul Spoonley, pro vice-chancellor of Massey University, told Asia Pacific Report that online hate speech “provides an enabling environment which green lights racial and religious vilification”.

He was responding to a media focus on racism and Islamophobia in news media this week, following last Friday’s massacre in which 50 people were killed by a right-wing terrorist.

READ MORE: Hate speech – we need to understand the damage it does

“It provides unfiltered ideas and arguments for those who are pliable and interested. And it tells others what you have done and got away with,” said Dr Spoonley, who gave a public lecture on the topic at the National Library on Tuesday.

Prior to the Christchurch attack, the accused terrorist was active on far-right online forums that promoted anti-Islamic sentiment.

-Partners-

In a recent article published by the Pacific Media Centre, Dr Spoonley wrote that he had personally encountered such hate speech.

Hateful comments
“I looked at what some New Zealanders were saying online. It did not take long to discover the presence of hateful and anti-Muslim comments.

“It would be wrong to characterise these views and comments as widespread, but New Zealand was certainly not exempt from Islamophobia.”

Recent research reports similar findings. According to a 2018 Netsafe survey of adult New Zealanders, 30 percent of participants had encountered online hate speech targeting someone else while 11 percent of all New Zealanders had been personally targeted themselves.

Religion was the most common reason for the abuse, followed closely by race and ethnicity.

While the internet has enabled such abuse to be shared more effectively, some argue that hate speech is an inherent issue in New Zealand society and has been since the days of early colonisation.

“This country was founded on hate speech,” said Associate Professor Camille Nakhid, an AUT sociologist and chair of the PMC advisory board.

“I suppose they didn’t call it hate speech at the time, but the taking of Maori land, the denigration of people considered worthless, the marginalisation of their customs through laws and media, I’m still struggling to think why New Zealanders cannot see the correlation.”

Racism unchecked
A researcher of marginalised and minority groups, Dr Nakhid said the attacks such as the mosque ones in Christchurch were an inevitable result of the racism that went unchecked in New Zealand society.

“We saw the danger of hate speech on Friday. If you look at what New Zealand media personalities have said about migrants and refugees, this is what it would lead to.”

There has been a number of recent controversies involving on-air racism, most notably when Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan referred to Pacific countries as leeches.

In the wake of Friday’s massacre there has been a public outcry calling for the regulation and censorship of such speech in order to prevent further race and religion-based attacks.

However, AUT professor of history Paul Moon said that while a desire for censorship was an instinctive response to hate-based events, it would not address the root cause of the problem.

“Censorship would be fruitless as a means of prevention because it addresses only a small part of the symptom, rather than the underlying cause” he said.

“The problem of socially-conditioned hatred is so much larger and more intricate than the capacity of any sort of censorship to control it.”

Isolation dangerous
While he said that there was cause to re-evaluate the limits of free speech in New Zealand, stifling speech could often create a dangerous climate of isolation.

“What the Christchurch killer’s manifesto revealed was a profound degree of ignorance, isolation, and self-loathing,” he said.

“It was precisely a lack of exchange of ideas with the wider community that contributed to such a warped and manifestly dangerous view of the world.”

While the national grief has been palpable in the days following the massacre, the majority of the public has galvanised around New Zealand’s Muslim community, offering support, laying flowers at mosques and holding vigils of solidarity.

This, said Dr Moon, was the best way to counter hate speech.

“Participation, learning, and sharing are among the best antidotes to isolation, and the sort of hatred that can ferment from such social separation.”

Michael Andrew is the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project contributing editor.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Gunman arrested ‘within 21 minutes’ and saved lives, says police chief

Police Commissioner Mike Bush … suspect was apprehended on the way to another target. Image: Rebekah Parsons-King/RNZ

By RNZ

Police Commissioner Mike Bush says police knew where the suspect from the Christchurch mosque attacks was going after the New Zealand shootings and intervened.

During a media conference today, Bush gave further details of the police response during the attacks that killed 50 people at Al Noor and Linwood mosques last Friday.

He said within five minutes and 39 seconds of being notified the first responders were armed and on the scene and ready to respond and within 10 minutes the armed offenders squad was on the scene.

WATCH RNZ VIDEO: Police Commissioner Mike Bush speaks to the media

“Within 21 minutes the person that is now in custody was arrested.”

Bush said the person was apprehended on the way to another target. He would not say what the target was.

-Partners-

“We strongly believe we stopped him on the way to a further attack, so lives were saved.

“We absolutely believe we know where he was going and we intervened along the way.”

2 assault rifles
He said during the arrest of the suspect, officers seized two assault rifles and at least one semi-automatic rifle.

Police had previously said the suspect was in custody at the justice precinct within 36 minutes, but Bush said the arrest at the roadside took only 21 minutes.

Speaking about identifying the victims’ bodies, Bush said it was an absolute priority to return the victims to their families.

As of at 11.30pm yesterday 21 of the victims had been formally identified, and by midday there would be a further six victims identified and made available to their families.

“By the end of today we should have completed the majority of those identifications. But I have to say that some of those victims will take a little longer.”

While the priority was the families, police also had other obligations, he said.

“The first one on behalf of the chief coroner and all of the coroners is to ensure absolute accuracy in that identification process,” Bush said.

Six coroners
“If we get it wrong, that’s unforgivable,” he said.

Six coroners including the chief coroner are on site. More than 100 specialists and experts including police, the Disaster Victim Identification unit, Defence Force pathologists and odonatologists were working on the identification with overseas assistance.

Bush said the other responsibility was the prosecution of the case.

“We must prove, for prosecution, the cause of death to the satisfaction of the coroner and the judge.

“You cannot convict for murder without that cause of death.”

The investigation was an international one, he said. The FBI were on the ground in New Zealand; Australian Federal Police, other Australian police and other jurisdictions overseas were being consulted.

The threat level remained at high.

Three other arrests
“If there was a specific threat, we would make sure we communicated that,” Bush said.

Along with the accused, there were three others arrested around the time of the attacks.

“There was a lone gentleman who appeared at one of the cordons. He wasn’t involved, he did have a firearm, so that’s been dealt with.

“There was another couple who turned up at a cordon – a male and a female.

“She has been released without charge. I do understand that the male in that vehicle has been charged with firearms offences.

“We do not believe that they are in any way related to the attacker or the attack.”

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Death toll from Papuan floods, mudslides rises to 89

Homes and bridges destroyed in Papua province by landslides triggered by torrential rainfall – the death toll is now 89. Video: Euronews

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

The death toll from flash floods and mudslides, triggered by days of torrential downpours in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province, has risen to 89, with dozens of others missing, reports Al Jazeera.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson of the national disaster mitigation agency, said 89 bodies had been pulled from the mud and wreckage of collapsed homes by yesterday.

Another 159 people were injured, including 84 who were hospitalised, many with broken bones and head wounds.

The number of dead is expected to rise as rescue workers comb through affected areas, Nugroho said.

Floodwaters and landslides destroyed roads and bridges in several areas of Papua province’s Jayapura district around the capital early on Sunday, hampering rescue efforts, reports Al Jazeera.

-Partners-

More than 1600 rescuers, including soldiers and police, faced difficulties yesterday in clearing huge piles of debris due to shortages of heavy equipment, said Papua military spokesperson Colonel Muhammad Aidi.

“We face difficulties removing debris and the bodies under rubble as we don’t have enough excavators,” said Aidi, adding that rescuers were searching for 74 people reported missing and feared dead.

Bridge destroyed
“One district in the mountain is still not accessible to aid workers because a bridge connecting the area was destroyed. But there are no reports of fatalities there,” he said, adding that a navy ship was being sent to the location.

Nugroho said about 7000 residents were displaced from their homes, with more than 400 houses and other buildings damaged and thousands of others submerged.

Papua’s provincial administration declared a two-week emergency in order to get assistance from the central government. The province shares a border with Papua New Guinea.

Flooding is common in Indonesia, especially during the rainy season which runs from October to April.

In January, floods and landslides killed at least 70 people on Sulawesi island, while earlier this month hundreds in West Java province were forced to evacuate when torrential rains triggered severe flooding.

The Southeast Asian archipelago of some 17,000 islands is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth, straddling the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.

Residents examine their wrecked homes after flooding in Sentani, Jayapura, Papua on Sunday. Image: Gusti Tanati/Antara/Jakarta Post

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘He is a terrorist – and nameless’, PM Jacinda Ardern declares to nation

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed she will never mention the name of the man accused of killing at least 50 people in the Christchurch mosques terror attack on March 15. Video: Newsweek/NZ Parliament

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Paying tribute to the victims of the Christchurch terror attacks in Parliament today, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the accused gunman would remain “nameless”.

She vowed that would not name the Australian man and told others in New Zealand to do the same.

READ MORE: RNZ’s tribute to the lost – ‘They are us’

“He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name,” she said.

“He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.”

-Partners-

While saying that while a quiet Friday afternoon had become “our darkest of days”, immediate measures had been put in place to ensure the safety of New Zealand’s Muslim community and everyone following Friday’s massacre of 50 people praying at two mosques in Christchurch.

She also pledged justice for the families.

The man is due to reappear in the High Court in Christchurch on April 5 charged with one count of murder, but expected to face other charges.

Her full statement to Parliament on the Christchurch terror attack:

Mr Speaker,

Al salam Alaikum

Peace be upon you. And peace be upon all of us.

Mr Speaker the 15th of March will now forever be a day etched in our collective memories. On a quiet Friday afternoon a man stormed into a place of peaceful worship and took away the lives of 50 people.

That quiet Friday afternoon has become our darkest of days.

But for the families, it was more than that. It was the day that the simple act of prayer – of practising their Muslim faith and religion – led to the loss of their loved ones lives.

Those loved ones, were brothers, daughters, fathers and children.

They were New Zealanders. They are us.

And because they are us, we, as a nation, we mourn them.

We feel a huge duty of care to them. And Mr Speaker, we have so much we feel the need to say and to do.

One of the roles I never anticipated having, and hoped never to have, is to voice the grief of a nation.

At this time, it has been second only to securing the care of those affected, and the safety of everyone.

And in this role, I wanted to speak directly to the families. We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage. We can. And we will, surround you with aroha, manaakitanga and all that makes us, us. Our hearts are heavy but our spirit is strong.

Mr Speaker, 6 minutes after a 111 call was placed alerting the police to the shootings at Al-Noor mosque, police were on the scene.

The arrest itself was nothing short of an act of bravery. Two country police officers rammed the vehicle from which the offender was still shooting. They pulled open his car door, when there were explosives inside, and pulled him out.

I know we all wish to acknowledge that their acts put the safety of New Zealanders above their own, and we thank them.

But they were not the only ones who showed extraordinary courage.

Naeem Rashid, originally from Pakistan, died after rushing at the terrorist and trying to wrestle the gun from him. He lost his life trying to save those who were worshipping alongside him.

Abdul Aziz, originally from Afghanistan, confronted and faced down the armed terrorist after grabbing the nearest thing to hand – a simple eftpos machine. He risked his life and no doubt saved many with his selfless bravery.

There will be countless stories, some of which we may never know, but to each, we acknowledge you in this place, in this House.

For many of us the first sign of the scale of this terrorist attack was the images of ambulance staff transporting victims to Christchurch hospital.

To the first responders, the ambulance staff and the health professionals who have assisted – and who continue to assist those who have been injured.

Please accept the heartfelt thanks of us all. I saw first-hand your care and your professionalism in the face of extraordinary challenges. We are proud of your work, and incredibly grateful for it.

Mr Speaker, if you’ll allow, I’d like to talk about some of the immediate measures currently in place especially to ensure the safety of our Muslim community, and more broadly the safety of everyone.

As a nation, we do remain on high alert. While there isn’t a specific threat at present, we are maintaining vigilance.

Unfortunately, we have seen in countries that know the horrors of terrorism more than us, there is a pattern of increased tension and actions over the weeks that follow that means we do need to ensure that vigilance is maintained.

There is an additional and ongoing security presence in Christchurch, and as the police have indicated, there will continue to be a police presence at mosques around the country while their doors are open. When they are closed, police will be in the vicinity.

There is a huge focus on ensuring the needs of families are met. That has to be our priority. A community welfare centre has been set up near the hospital in Christchurch to make sure people know how to access support.

Visas for family members overseas are being prioritised so that they can attend funerals. Funeral costs are covered, and we have moved quickly to ensure that this includes repatriation costs for any family members who would like to move their loved ones away from New Zealand.

We are working to provide mental health and social support. The 1737 number yesterday received roughly 600 texts or phonecalls. They are on average lasting around 40 minutes, and I encourage anyone in need to reach out and use these services. They are there for you.

Our language service has also provided support from more than 5000 contacts, ensuring whether you are ACC or MSD, you are able to pass on the support that is needed, in the language that is needed. To all those working within this service, we say thank you.

Our security and intelligence services are receiving a range of additional information. As has been the case in the past, these are being taken extremely seriously, and they are being followed up.

I know though Mr Speaker, that there have rightly been questions around how this could have happened here. In a place that prides itself on being open, peaceful, diverse.

And there is anger that it has happened here.

There are many questions that need to be answered, and the assurance that I give you is that they will be.

Yesterday Cabinet agreed that an inquiry, one that looks into the events that led up to the attack on 15 March, will occur. We will examine what we did know, could have known, or should have known. We cannot allow this to happen again.

Part of ensuring the safety of New Zealanders must include a frank examination of our gun laws.

As I have already said Mr Speaker, our gun laws will change. Cabinet met yesterday and made in-principle decisions, 72 hours after the attack.

Before we meet again next Monday, these decisions will be announced.

Mr Speaker, there is one person at the centre of this act of terror against our Muslim community in New Zealand.

A 28-year-old man – an Australian citizen – has been charged with one count of murder. Other charges will follow. He will face the full force of the law in New Zealand. The families of the fallen will have justice.

He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety.

And that is why you will never hear me mention his name.

He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist.

But he will, when I speak, be nameless.

And to others I implore you: speak the names of those who were lost, rather than name of the man who took them.

He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name.

Mr Speaker, we will also look at the role social media played and what steps we can take, including on the international stage, and in unison with our partners.

There is no question that ideas and language of division and hate have existed for decades, but their form of distribution, the tools of organisation, they are new.

We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published. They are the publisher. Not just the postman. There cannot be a case of all profit no responsibility. This of course doesn’t take away the responsibility we too must show as a nation, to confront racism, violence and extremism. I don’t have all of the answers now, but we must collectively find them. And we must act.

Mr Speaker, we are deeply grateful for all messages of sympathy, support and solidarity that we are receiving from our friends all around the world. And we are grateful to the global Muslim community who have stood with us, and we stand with them.

Mr Speaker, I acknowledge that we too also stand with Christchurch, in a devastating blow that this has been to their recovery. I acknowledge every member of this House that has stood alongside their Muslim community but especially those in Canterbury as we acknowledge this double grief

As I conclude I acknowledge there are many stories that will have struck all of us since the 15th of March.

One I wish to mention, is that of Hati Mohemmed Daoud Nabi.

He was the 71-year-old man who opened the door at the Al-Noor mosque and uttered the words ‘Hello brother, welcome’. His final words.

Of course he had no idea of the hate that sat behind the door, but his welcome tells us so much – that he was a member of a faith that welcomed all its members, that showed openness, and care.

I have said many times Mr Speaker, we are a nation of 200 ethnicities, 160 languages. We open our doors to others and say welcome. And the only thing that must change after the events of Friday, is that this same door must close on all of those who espouse hate and fear.

Yes the person who committed these acts was not from here. He was not raised here. He did not find his ideology here, but that is not to say that those very same views do not live here.

I know that as a nation, we wish to provide every comfort we can to our Muslim community in this darkest of times. And we are. The mountain of flowers around the country that lie at the doors of mosques, the spontaneous song outside the gates. These are ways of expressing an outpouring of love and empathy. But we wish to do more.

We wish for every member of our communities to also feel safe.

Safety means being free from the fear of violence.

But it also means being free from the fear of those sentiments of racism and hate, that create a place where violence can flourish.

And every single one of us has the power to change that.

Mr Speaker on Friday it will be a week since the attack.

Members of the Muslim community will gather for worship on that day.

Let us acknowledge their grief as they do.

Let’s support them as they gather again for worship.

We are one, they are us.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Christchurch terrorism attacks: NZ’s darkest hour – Friday, March 15, 2019

Selwyn Manning, editor of Evening Report, profiles the Christchurch atrocity that has outraged and shaken a peaceful South Pacific nation.

Out of the blue:
It was 1:39pm, Friday March 15. As was usual for a Friday, hundreds of people had turned up to pray at the Al Noor Mosque in Riccarton, Christchurch. All was peaceful, women, children, men, people of all ages young and old, both Sunni and Shia, were in contemplative repose free of worry.

It was a mild, late summer, 20 degrees Celsius day. Earlier, the touring Bangladesh cricket team had briefly visited the mosque, but left early to attend a press conference. By 1:39pm, they had returned and were outside exiting a bus, intending to continue with their prayers inside the mosque.

At 1:40pm, ahead of the team, a man entered the mosque walking quickly up the front steps. He was carrying an assault rifle and dressed in combat uniform. He immediately began shooting people who were kneeling in prayer.

The shots rang out and the Bangladesh team members realising they were witnesses to an attack, retreated, and fled on foot to nearby Hagley Park.

Back inside the Al Noor Mosque, scores of worshippers were being gunned down, some killed instantly, others bleeding to death. The victims included little Mucaad Ibrahim who was three years of age. Mucaad was known by his loved ones as a wise “old soul” and possessed an “intelligence beyond his years”.

Eye witnesses said that once the killer began shooting people, little Mucaad became separated from his family. In the chaos, his family could not find him. The next day police confirmed he too had been shot dead by the killer.

-Partners-

The murders continued at the Al Noor Mosque until the killer’s firearms ran out of bullets. Then, he simply walked out of the mosque, got in his car, and drove six kilometres to the Linwood Mosque. There too were people who had gathered for their regular Friday afternoon prayers.

Al Noor Mosque to Linwood Mosque – EveningReportNZ/Google Maps.

Inside Linwood Mosque was Abdul Aziz, a man who had gathered with his Muslim brothers. He had just begun his second pray when he heard gunshots outside. At first he thought it was someone playing with firecrackers (fireworks). But then, within seconds, he heard people screaming.

Aziz picked up an EFTPOS (electronic funds transaction) machine from a table inside the mosque. He ran outside.

He saw a man he describes as looking like a soldier. He said to the man: “Who are you”. Mr Aziz then saw three people lying on the ground dead from shotgun blasts. He realised the man was the killer. He approached the attacker, threw the EFTPOS machine hitting the killer, who in turn took from his vehicle a second firearm (a military style semi-automatic assault rifle) and fired four to five shots at Abdul Aziz, missing him. Then, in an attempt to lure the killer away from other people, Aziz shouted at the killer from behind a car: “Come, I’m here. Come I’m here!”

Aziz said he didn’t want the killer to go inside the mosque and kill more people. But the killer remained focussed. He walked directly to the entrance, once inside the mosque he continued his killing spree. Survivors speak of the killer wearing “army clothes”, dressed in “SWAT combat clothing”, helmeted, wearing a vest and a balaclava.

Inside the Linwood Mosque, another witness, Shoaib Gani, was kneeling in prayer. He heard a noise like fireworks but he and others weren’t too concerned and continued with their prayers. Then, as he and his fellow worshipers were kneeling speaking verses from the Koran, the man next to him fell forward with blood pouring from his head. He had been shot and killed instantly, Gani said. Then others too began falling to the floor dead.

Gani crawled under a table. He saw the killer and his firearm. “Written on the rifle were the words, ‘Welcome to hell’,” he said.

Victims, who were wounded and bleeding, were pleading with Gani to help them. But he was frozen to a spot under a table knowing that the killer was walking around the mosque killing as many people as he could. Gani believed he too would also soon be dead, so he reached for his cellphone, he called his parent’s back home in India. But no one answered. He tried to call his father’s number, but the phone kept ringing. He saw people around him bleeding to death. Others with fatal head-wounds: “Their brains were hanging out. I just couldn’t do anything. I didn’t know what to do.” Gani phoned 111 (the New Zealand emergency number) and told the authorities people were dead and injured: “The lady on the phone asked me to stay on the line as long as I could.”

Outside, Abdul Aziz picked up one of the killer’s discarded shotguns. Inside the mosque, the killer’s assault rifle ran out of bullets. The killer then “dropped his firearm” and ran back to his vehicle. He got in the driver’s seat. Aziz then ran toward the car. He threw a discarded shotgun at the killer’s vehicle: “I threw it like an arrow. It shattered his window.” Aziz thinks the killer thought someone had shot at him with a loaded gun. The killer turned. He swore at Aziz. When the window burst it covered the inside of the car with glass. Aziz said the killer “then took off” driving in his car. He then turned right away from the mosque driving through a red traffic light and out into Christchurch suburban streets.

Some minutes later, police and ambulance officers arrived at Linwood Mosque. Anti-terrorist armed police entered the mosque. Inside, Gani said the survivors were ordered to put their hands up above their heads. The mass murder scene was covered in blood. The police then secured the area. Some victims survived because they were under the bodies of the dead. Police told survivors to gather near a grassed area outside. There, people began weeping for their husbands, wives, parents, children, friends.

Alleged killer Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared in court on March 16, 2019, charged with one count of murder. Further charges will be laid. While before the court, he smiled at onlookers and signalled a white supremacist sign with his fingers – EveningReportNZ/Screengrab of TVNZ coverage.

The arrest:
Seventeen minutes later, two police officers identified the killer, apparently driving his car. They drove the police car into the killer’s vehicle, ramming it against a curb. Immediately, they disarmed the killer, cuffed him, and noticed home made bombs in the vehicle – IEDs (improvised explosive devices). They arrested the man and secured the scene.

The rest of Christchurch was in lockdown, children were kept safe inside their classrooms, hospitals began to prepare for casualties, the city’s streets became eerily quiet, people were locked in to libraries, shops, their homes. Police and armed forces helicopters networked the skies. No one knew if the terrorist attacks were committed by a group of people or a lone gunman.

But back inside and at the entrances to the two mosques, 50 people were dead – one of the dead was discovered the next day by police; the body was laying beneath others who had been killed. Scores of others were in hospital fighting for their lives, at least another 10 were in a critical condition in intensive care. Pathologists from all over New Zealand and Australia were heading to Christchurch to help with documenting the method of murder of the dead.

Within hours of the killings, Australian media named the alleged killer as an Australian-born citizen named Brenton Tarrant, 28 years of age. On Saturday morning The Australian newspaper’s front page read “Australia’s evil export”.

Other media in New Zealand followed with details of the man’s background. Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared in court the next day charged with one single count of murder. Other charges will follow. His duty lawyer did not seek name suppression nor bail, the lawyer told the judge: “I’m simply seeking remand and a High Court next-available-hearing date.” Tarrant stood cuffed, smiling at those in the courtroom, at one point signaling with his fingers a “white supremacist” sign. He will next appear in the Christchurch High Court on April 5.

The aftermath:
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern later told media: “It was absolutely his [the offender’s) intention to continue with his attack.” PM Ardern said: “Police are working to build a picture of this tragic event. A complex and comprehensive investigation is (now) underway.” To balance the requirement of investigation with the customs of Muslim burials, PM Ardern said liaison officers were with the victims’ loved ones to help “in a way that is consistent with Muslim faith while taking into account these unprecedented circumstances and the obligations to the coroner”.

PM Ardern said survivors of the massacre had indicated that this attack was not “of the New Zealand that they know”.

One day later, survivor Shoaib Gani (mentioned above) told media he still could not sleep or eat. The sounds and sights were still vivid in his head: “I still can feel myself lying on the floor waiting for the bullets to hit me.” He said, he will travel back to India to visit family, but he will return to Christchurch: “It’s just a few people, you know. You can’t blame the whole of New Zealand for this… It’s a good country, people are peaceful. Everybody has helped me here. One right wing (person) doesn’t mean everyone is bad. So I can come back here and live and hope nothing like this happens in the future.”

In the hours after the attacks, all around New Zealand, in the cities and in small country areas, police were stationed and were ready in case others were involved and were preparing further crimes.

In the hours after the attacks, all around New Zealand, in the cities and in small country areas, like here at Taihape’s Ad-Deen Mosque, people lay flowers as a sign of support and aroha. Image, Selwyn Manning/EveningReport.nz taken Saturday March 16, 2019.

Beside the police officers, people, of all races and religions, began laying flowers at the steps to their local mosques. Messages included read: “Salam Alaikum, Peace be unto you”, and, “Aroha nui”, “Peace and love”, “You are one of us”. The outpouring of grief swept the South Pacific nation, and as this article was written, a mood of support, comfort, reassurance and solidarity with those of Muslim faith was in evidence.

In Australia, Sydney’s landmark Opera House was like a beacon in the night; coloured blue, red, and white – the colours of the New Zealand flag embossed with the silver fern (ponga) an emblem of Aotearoa New Zealand. Australia’s peoples, like in New Zealand, began laying flowers at the steps of its mosques in a gesture of inclusiveness.

In the aftermath, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has committed to ongoing financial assistance to dependents of those who have died or are injured, and assistance, she said, would be ongoing.

Questions are being leveled as to how a person with hate can enter, live, and purchase weapons in New Zealand while expressing hate toward other cultures and harbouring an intent to kill others.

PM Ardern said: “The guns used in this case appear to have been modified. That is a challenge police have been facing, and that is a challenge that we will look to address in changing our laws… We need to include the fact that modification of guns which can lead them to become essentially the kinds of weapons we have seen used in this terrorist act.”

When asked how she was coping personally with the tragedy, she said: “I am feeling the exact same emotions that every New Zealander is facing. Yes, I have the additional responsibility and weight of expressing the grief of all New Zealanders and I certainly feel that.”

That responsibility includes ensuring New Zealand’s police, the nation’s intelligence and security services and “the process around watch-lists, including whether or not our border protections are currently in a status that they should be, and, including our gun laws.”

The backstory:
Indeed, New Zealand is part of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence network that includes the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Global surveillance is coordinated and prioritised among the Five Eyes member states. While significant resource, technology and sophistication is committed to the Five Eyes intelligence agencies, New Zealanders fear that those who find themselves as targets, or within the scope of intelligence officers, are predominantly of the Muslim faith.

In contrast, the accused killer who allegedly committed the horrific Christchurch mosque attacks, has been active both on social media and the dark web expressing, with an intensifying degree, his ideology of hate and intolerance. It does appear of the highest public interest, certainly from an open source intelligence point of view, to ask questions of why New Zealand’s (and indeed the Five Eyes intelligence network’s) surveillance experts did not detect the expressed evil that had radicalised the heart and mind of the perpetrator of this massacre.

It is also fact that New Zealand is a comparatively safe and peaceful nation. But within its midst are people and groups fermenting on racially-based hate ideas. Whether it be in isolation or among organised groupings, the threat of racially driven terror crimes exists.

The alleged killer, Brenton Tarrant, has lived among those of New Zealand’s southern city Dunedin for at least two years. It appears he was radicalised around 2010 after his father died and he toured Europe. He wrote about becoming “increasingly disgusted” at immigrant communities. In early 2018, Tarrant joined a Dunedin gun club and began practising his shooting skills and allegedly planned his attacks.

Regarding Christchurch, while it has a history of overt white racist gangs, at this juncture, it does not appear they were directly involved in this series of crimes.

But this leads to many unanswered questions, including:

  • Was the killer a lone mass murderer, a sleeper in a cell of one?
  • Were those with whom he communicated and engaged with on the web in extreme white racist ideologies aware of his plans?
  • Was Christchurch chosen by the killer for logistical reasons?
  • Was it because the city is easier to drive around than Dunedin, Wellington or Auckland?
  • Was it because Christchurch has at least two mosques within easy driving distance?
  • Were the Bangladesh Cricket team in his scope of attacks?
  • Was the killer attempting to incite a violent response from Christchurch’s burgeoning Muslim community, or, expecting a response from the Alt-Right, from white racist groups such as the Right Wing Resistance (RWR), the Fourth Reich, and Christchurch’s skinhead community?

New Zealand has in its midst white supremacist neo-nazi groups like this Right Wing Resistance gang. Was the killer of those at the two Christchurch mosques attempting to ignite retaliation and violence? Image: Evening Report

The future:
Survivors of Friday 15th’s terrorist attack say they have complained of an increase in racism and expressed hate in recent times. They say, their concerns have not been taken seriously. These are the concerns that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has committed to listen to, has committed to represent, and, as the prime advocate for her country’s peoples, to act on to ensure cracks in New Zealand’s border, security and intelligence apparatus are corrected.

And, what of New Zealand’s social culture? How will it be affected? That will be determined by the actions of each individual person, each community, town and city and how as a nation New Zealand redefines “The Kiwi Way”.

Members of New Zealand’s media will also need to act responsibly. It is fair to say some have a reputation for argument that verges on alt-right intolerance, for example, on Twitter only two days after the mass murders, a prominent radio journalist, who is employed by one of New Zealand’s largest networks, tweeted: “28 years on an [sic] we still haven’t stopped madmen getting guns. #ChChMosque… [Replying to @Politikwebsite] And the neo nationalist right are the result of the virtue signaling exclusionary left.”

Perhaps such examples are out of step with New Zealand’s population. But such attitudes do create a dialogue of justification for those who harbour intolerance. However, if the outpouring of love and compassion continues to bind rather than divide, then perhaps New Zealand has received, as they say, “a wake-up call”, where racial intolerance and extreme ideologies have no place among peoples of all kinds, Maori and Pakeha, of all religions, political persuasions and creeds.

Flowers at Ponsonby mosque, Auckland, NZ. 17 March 2019. Image David Robie/PMC

One thing is certain; to stamp out the evil of hate extremism, New Zealanders will pay a price that will be charged against the Kiwi lifestyle. Personal liberties of freedom, of expression and privacy will certainly be eroded further as this nation of the South Pacific grapples with how to keep its people safe. The means of how to achieve relative safety will be hotly debated, but it is a necessary juncture in this nation’s history, a moment when we all must confront and challenge ourselves so that people of innocence, people like little three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim, can go about their days in trust, in peace, in joyful purpose and achieve their deserved potential. Anything less is a second killing for the victims of Friday, 15th, New Zealand’s darkest hour.

Rongotea School symbol of unity since 1881 – image, Selwyn Manning, EveningReportNZ taken Friday 15, 2019.

Selwyn Manning is editor and publisher of Evening Report, a companion publication with Asia Pacific Report. He is also a former chair of the Pacific Media Centre Advisory Board. This article was originally published by the German magazine Cicero.de under the title: Attentat in Christchurch – Willkommen in der Hölle. It is republished here with permission.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Christchurch terror attacks: NZ advertisers to pull social media ads

“Massacre shame of Facebook” banner headline in the London Daily Mail at the weekend. Image: PMC screenshot

By RNZ

More than 50 New Zealand companies are considering pulling ads from Facebook because it allowed a livestream of the Christchurch massacre last Friday.

Some firms have already stopped advertising and the Association of New Zealand Advertisers predicts dozens of others are likely to follow suit.

A semiautomatic gun for destruction hand-in slip. Image: RNZ

To show more support after the attacks, some gun owners have been handing over semi-automatic rifles for destruction in protest.

“Until today, I was one of the New Zealanders who owned a semiautomatic rifle. On the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse,” wrote farmer John Hart on Twitter.

“We don’t need these in our country.

“We have [to] make sure it’s #NeverAgain.”

-Partners-

READ MORE:
RNZ’s live news feed – Day 5
What you need to know
A list of the confirmed victims
Find out about vigils around the country

Meanwhile, another terror attack in the Netherlands has overshadowed efforts in New Zealand to reject individual hatreds and come together to support those affected in Christchurch.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media