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

Dear PM: ‘It breaks my heart that a sense of belonging has cost 50 lives’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern paying her respects in Christchurch. Image: RNZ

Summer Joyan’s open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

Dear Prime Minister Ardern,

I am a 13-year-old Muslim girl from Australia and I would like to publicly share my appreciation with you. I belong to the generation that was born after 11 September 2001. I have never really contemplated how dark the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant language is that permeates Australian society, because it is all I have ever known. I guess I’ve become used to hearing political leaders use that same language.

But then, after seeing the way you have responded to the terrorist attack in Christchurch, I realised that I now know what the role of a leader truly is. So I want to thank you on behalf of the Muslim community in this country for all that you’ve done since Friday. The way you have expressed support and genuine empathy for the Muslim community, and your care for the people of New Zealand as a whole, have been magnificent to see. And I wanted you to know how much it means to me.

#TheyAreUs

Today I watched a video of you talking to the students at Cashmere High School regarding the terrorist attack. You showed such strength and kindness, and it made me wish I could experience the same thing in Australia. In my high school, not a single teacher or figure of authority even mentioned the attacks. They didn’t acknowledge that a white supremacist murdered 50 innocent Muslim men, women and children in a usually peaceful place of worship. They didn’t offer support or reach out to the Muslim girls in my school or even provide counselling services for grief and support.

Today’s “Unbreakable” New Zealand Herald front page. Image: PMC

In a country that is so similar to New Zealand, and yet also so different, can you imagine the comfort that my Muslim friends and I felt, knowing there was one leader in a neighbouring country that was on our side? My friends and I are Muslim; we were all born in Australian and it is the only place we have ever known. But this has been the first time we have ever felt like we were part of the fabric of a community, and it breaks my heart that this feeling of belonging has come at the cost of 50 lives. If only more politicians had the courage to stand up to injustices and knew when to stop playing political games with the lives of people who depend on them.

Your leadership has brought the world together. By supporting the New Zealand community, no matter what their religion, you have shown what a great leader you are ― not just in the good times, but when the times are as dark as can be. I cannot imagine any other political leader doing what you have done. I think that you deserve the Nobel Peace Prize! Many world leaders could learn a lot from the way you have held your nation together and comforted those who are grieving.

-Partners-

I’m sure you will remain Prime Minister of New Zealand for a long time. But if not, do you think maybe you could move to Australia and become our Prime Minister? That would be a dream come true.

Thank you again for all that you have done.

From an Australian-Muslim girl who now knows what real leadership looks like,

Summer Joyan

The solidarity vigil crowd at Auckland’s Domain last night. Image: David Robie/PMC A policeman at the solidarity vigil in Auckland’s Domain last night. Image: David Robie/PMC

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Former PMW reporter talks to SA media on mosque massacre

Rahul Bhattarai talks to eNCA News of South Africa live from New Zealand. Video: eNCA News

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Former Pacific Media Watch project reporter Rahul Bhattarai has talked to the South African independent news service eNews Channel Africa News about last Friday’s mosque massacre in New Zealand.

The Johannesburg host talked to him by Skype for an update on “how New Zealand is coping” in the wake of the attack by a white supremacist gunman on worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch a week ago today, leaving 50 people dead.

eNews Channel Africa has been a big media hit in South Africa and currently broadcasts live on DStv 403.

The channel made history when it launched on June 1, 2008, becoming South Africa’s first 24-hour news service.

Since then, it has dominated the market.

-Partners-

Live reports, breaking news, sport, weather, entertainment, financial and business updates all form part of its offering, along with a host of topical current affairs shows.

eNCA has bureaus across South Africa and also has correspondents covering Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Tanzania, the US and Europe.

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

AUT students: ‘We want to stay as a country, unified, always’

By Michael Andrew

Muslim students at Auckland University of Technology have praised the gestures of kindness they have received from fellow students and the New Zealand community following last Friday’s terror attack in Christchurch when 50 people were massacred.

The students reflected as New Zealand was poised for a national day of mourning vigils, including a two-minute silence in solidarity across the nation after the Friday Muslim call to prayer relayed by the public broadcasters RNZ and TVNZ at 1.30pm.

Having just returned to Auckland from Christchurch where she was visiting friends and family – some of whom were wounded in the attacks – first year student Ruqaiyah Hanif said the support she had received since Friday had been overwhelming.

“Today I was coming on the train alone and I know as a Muslim we are told to stay in groups just to be safer, I had these young men approach me and they just sat with me and talked with me through the train ride,” she said.

READ MORE: Hate speech ‘gives green light’ to religion, race attacks

#TheyAreUs

“It was just really nice and comforting to know that there are people that care, and they’re everywhere.”

-Partners-

Hanif, who is in her first year of a business degree, said that while she knows people who were killed in the attacks, the strength shown by those recovering is inspiring.

“I visited the Al Noor Mosque and the response centre and met a woman who lost her husband and she was so strong. These people are an inspiration to us.”

The Al Noor Mosque was the first of the two mosques attacked in last Friday’s shooting.

Muslim students at a cultural display about Islam at Auckland University of Technology this week: (from left) Ruqaiyah Hanif, Zara Jawadi, Samirah, and Nora Rahimi. Image: Michael Andrew/PMW

Safe and secure
Fourth year business student Samirah had also noticed the support shown at AUT, saying the measures taken by the police and campus security had made her feel safe and secure.

“I had a police officer approach me and say ‘if there is anything I need we’re around campus and we’re around the Masjid as well’.

“We’ve got prayers coming up on Friday and people have said, ‘we will form a human chain around you so we can make sure you’re safe inside.’”

The AUT Masjid has been under guard by campus security this week and police have also been regularly patrolling the area.

Doctoral student and campus security guard Omer Bin Nasir, who has been stationed outside the AUT Masjid, said that while Friday was a dark day Muslims were touched by the efforts of the public and the government.

“Last Friday was black Friday for Muslims, for New Zealand, but after that, the way the government and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has addressed this issue, I think Muslims living in New Zealand feel much more secure, and they feel they are part of this country.”

Bin Nasan, a former television journalist from Pakistan, who is researching how domestic violence is portrayed in the New Zealand media, said he had experienced racism and bullying in this country before. The issue was resolved quickly, however, after he contacted police.

Support messages from AUT students and staff at a display about Islam on campus this week. Image: Michael Andrew/PMW

‘Country before heaven’
“This is a country before heaven,” he said. “It is so beautiful, and the people are really friendly.”

Despite the outpouring of public support in the aftermath of the massacre, other students have echoed Bin Nasan’s experience of racism in New Zealand. Some have even been subjected to abuse since Friday.

“There have more attacks on Muslims from Friday until now. My friend was attacked and my house was attacked,” said student Nora Rahimi.

“Some people realise their agenda is being spread out and they’re like, hmmm, this is acceptable now.”

Rahimi, who is studying for a Bachelor or Arts, said the accused terrorist should have been on a security watch list prior to the attack.

“Despite that I am very happy that the government is taking big steps forward to help us and the community.”

Office manager Zara Jawadi felt the same way. However, she stressed the need for ongoing education about all religions including Islam.

Get educated
“I think people should be inspired now to get out there and educate themselves, and see for themselves what our religion is all about, not just Islam but all the other religions in this country.”

Jawadi, who works for the charity New Muslim Project also said that ongoing racism, no matter the context, was not acceptable.

“Each of us has a responsibility to stand up against racism, whether it’s a small comment or a joke, don’t let that be ok anymore.”

The other students agreed that consistency was the best way to prevent further attacks. They hoped the sense of unity felt after Friday would continue.

“All this love and support we’ve been getting, we just want it to continue,” said Samirah.
“We don’t want it to end in a few weeks and everything goes back to how it was, when we stop knowing about each other and stop caring about each other.

“We want to stay as a country, unified, always.”

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

#TheyAreUs video wall tile at Auckland University of Technology today announcing national mourning events on the institution’s three campuses. 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