‘There was blood everywhere, dead bodies were laying down on the floor, numbers of wounded people including women and children were asking help to survive’- this scenario was painted by Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian born terrorist with the evil ideology of white supremacy at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The world witnessed the latest version on a long list of acts of white supremacist terrorism, which killed 50 Muslim Worshipers including 5 Bangladeshis and injured 50 others.
The Christchurch mosque shootings were two consecutive terrorist attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday Prayer on 15 March.
The unprecedented mass shootings were carefully planned, and have shocked the usually peaceful nation. New Zealand has often been considered a safe country, and has a relatively low level of homicide.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as one of her country's "darkest days". She said that the suspects held "extremist views" that have no place in New Zealand or anywhere else in the world.
The killer, a 28-year-old Australian man, described in media reports as a white supremacist and part of the alt-right, was arrested and charged with murder. He live streamed the first attack on Facebook Live.
The attacks began at the Al Noor Mosque in the suburb of Riccarton at 1:40 pm, and continued at the Linwood Islamic Centre at about 1:55 pm.
The white supremacist killer began shooting worshippers at the Al Noor Mosque, Riccarton, at around 1:40 pm. Police received the first emergency call at 1:41 pm. Between three hundred and five hundred people may have been inside the mosque attending Friday Prayer at the time of the shooting.
The killer live-streamed the first 17 minutes of this attack on Facebook Live, starting with the drive to the mosque and ending with the drive away. Moments before the shooting, the killer played several songs including a traditional marching song of the British military called "The British Grenadiers", and "Serbia Strong", a Serb nationalist song from the Bosnian War (1992–1995) celebrating Radovan Karadžić, who was found guilty of genocide against Bosnian Muslims.
One witness said the killer continued to play "military music" from a portable speaker inside the mosque. Just before the shooting, the terrorist appeared to be greeted by one of the worshippers, who said "Hello, brother!" and was among the first people to be killed.
The killer spent several minutes inside the mosque, shooting attendees indiscriminately. He killed three people near the entrance, and many others inside a larger room. During the attack, a worshipper, Naeem Rashid, charged at the gunman and was shot; he later died from his injuries.
The killer approached wounded victims, firing at them multiple times to ensure that they are dead. He then left the mosque and fired indiscriminately at people outside. He retrieved another weapon from his vehicle before returning to the mosque to murder more victims, many of whom were already wounded and unable to escape. The killer then exited the mosque for a second time and killed a woman near the footpath as she pleaded for help.
He left the scene shortly thereafter, in his car, to the music of "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, where the singer proclaims: "I am the god of hellfire!" He had spent about six minutes at the Al Noor Mosque. The killer shot other civilians in the area and drove away at high speed, heading in the direction of the Linwood Islamic Centre.
A second attack began at about 1:55 pm at the Linwood Islamic Centre, a mosque 5 kilometers (3 mi) east of the Al Noor Mosque. According to a survivor, the killer initially did not find the door, and shot people outside and through a window, which alerted those insides.
The mosque's acting imam credited a worshipper named Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah with stopping the attack. Wahabzadah told reporters he had taken a credit-card reader and ran at the killer, hoping to distract him. When the killer retreated, Wahabzadah threw the credit-card reader at him. The killer took a firearm from his car and fired at Wahabzadah, who took cover among nearby cars and retrieved an empty shotgun the killer had dropped. The killer continued firing at the mosque. When he returned to his car again, Wahabzadah threw the shotgun at the car, shattering one of its windows or its windscreen. Then, the killer drove away.
After the attack, it was found that a total of 50 Muslim Worshipers (46 of them male, and 4 female) were killed: 42 at the Al Noor Mosque; 7 at the Linwood Islamic Centre, and one who died later in Christchurch Hospital.
The victims were aged between 3 and 77 years old. Greg Robertson, Chief of Surgery at the hospital, stated on 16 March that four of the victims had died in ambulances on route to the hospital. On 17 March, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said 50 other people had been injured in the attacks.
New Zealand Police media releases list among the dead citizens of Bangladesh, Egypt, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Zealand, Pakistan and Palestine.
Police have charged Brenton Harrison with murder in relation to the attacks. At the time of his arrest, he lived in Andersons Bay in Dunedin. He was a member of a South Otago gun club and practiced shooting at its range
He started planning an attack about two years prior to the shootings, and chose his targets three months in advance.
Security officials suspect he had come into contact with far-right organizations about two years before the shooting, while visiting European nations.
Tarrant is the author of a 73-page manifesto titled "The Great Replacement", a reference to the "Great Replacement" and "white genocide" conspiracy theories. It said the attacks were planned two years prior, and that the location was selected three months prior. Nine minutes before the attacks, the manifesto was emailed to more than 30 recipients, including the Prime Minister's office of New Zealand and several media outlets. Links to the manifesto were also shared on Twitter and 8chan immediately before the attacks.
In the manifesto several anti-immigrant sentiments are expressed, including hate speech against migrants, white supremacist rhetoric, and calls for all non-European immigrants in Europe who are claimed to be "invading his land" to be removed. Tarrant also describes himself as an ethno-nationalist.
In the manifesto, he names dozens of people from around the world, ranging from politicians whose ideas he supports to terrorists and murderers whose actions he applauds. In particular, he cites Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik as an inspiration, and claims he had had been in "brief contact" with Breivik. The manifesto also expressed support for Breivik, Luca Traini, Dylan Roof, Anton Lundin Pettersson, and Darren Osbourne, asserting that they took a "stand against ethnic and cultural genocide". He also calls for the assassination of several politicians with whom he disagrees.
He says he supports Donald Trump, President of the United States, as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose", but not as a leader or policy-maker.
The manifesto says that the main goal of the attacks was to accelerate anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment across majority-white nations in order to fight growing numbers of "invaders", and ignite an eventual "race war
The attacks, in no doubt, have been linked to an increase in white supremacism and alt-right extremism globally observed since the mid-2010s. Politicians and world leaders including the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina condemned the attacks.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attacks as "one of New Zealand's darkest days". It is the deadliest mass shooting in modern New Zealand history. New Zealand has established a royal commission of inquiry into security agencies in the wake of the attacks.
The mosques involved in the attacks, and others around the country and the world, became the focus of vigils, messages, and floral tributes. The mayor of Christchurch, Lianne Dalziel, encouraged people to lay flowers outside the city's Botanic Gardens. As a mark of sympathy and solidarity, school pupils and other groups performed to honor those killed in the attacks.
One week after the attacks, an open-air Friday prayer service was held in Hagley Park. Broadcast nationally on radio and television, it was attended by 20,000 people, including Prime Minister Ardern, who said "New Zealand mourns with you. We are one."
The Muslim community of New Zealand set up a great example of tolerance by showing the forgiveness, the real teaching of Islam.
Gamal Fouda, the Imam of the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch said in his Friday sermon (khutba) that Last Friday I stood in this mosque and saw the hatred and the rage in the eyes of the terrorist who killed and martyred 50 innocent people, wounded 42, and broke the hearts of millions around the world.
“Today from the same place I look out and I see the love and compassion in the eyes of thousands of fellow New Zealanders and human beings from across the globe, that fill the hearts of millions more who are not with us physically, but in spirit,” he said.
“This terrorist sought to tear our nation apart with an evil ideology that has torn the world apart. But instead we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable, and that the world can see in us an example of love and unity,” added the Imam.
He said, “We are broken hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive. We are together. We are determined to not let anyone divide us. We are determined to love one another, and to support each other.”
“This evil ideology of white supremacy did not strike us first, yet it struck us hardest. The number of people killed is not ordinary, but the solidarity in New Zealand is extra ordinary,” cited the Imam.
There are more questions than answers at the moment after the horrific massacre of 50 people during Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques. Some people has been trying to establish that this was the work of a madman.
But, at heart, it appears to be the work of a violent white supremacist who had acquired combat-style weapons and who was driven, according to his manifesto, to kill nonwhites in New Zealand to show that “there was nowhere left to go that was safe and free from mass immigration.”
Dr Mohamad Elmasry, Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies said in an article ‘New Zealand mosque attacks and the scourge of white supremacy’ that today's New Zealand mosque shootings, which killed at least 50 people and were carried out by white supremacists, are only the latest on a long list of recent acts of white supremacist terrorism.
“Despite the growing and constant threat, Western governments have failed to adequately address the danger of white supremacy. Although US media and political elites spend considerable time discussing Islamic terrorism,” said Dr Elmasry.
He mentioned, “Another problem directly relevant to today's New Zealand massacres is media coverage. Western news media coverage of Muslims tends to be negative and highly stereotypical. Violent crimes carried out by Muslims are highlighted in reportage, while violent crimes perpetrated against Muslims are often de-emphasized or ignored.”
“One peer-reviewed quantitative analysis showed that acts of terrorism committed by Muslims receive 357 percent more news attention than acts of terrorism committed by non-Muslims. Additionally, the word "terrorism" is often ignored in the context of non-Muslim violence and used exclusively in news reports describing Muslim crimes,” said Dr Elmasry.
A recent study showed that two-thirds of terrorist attacks in the US are carried out by far-right individuals and groups. Research by the Southern Poverty Law Center, meanwhile, shows that most far-right violence is unambiguously linked to white supremacy.
In spite of the obvious and continued threat of white supremacist terrorism, Western societies still arguably do not take the danger as seriously as they should.
The terrorist event of New Zealand is the proof and evidence to the entire world that terrorism has no color, has no race and has no religion. The rise of white supremacy and right-wing extremism is a great global threat to mankind and this must end now.