Nationalistic terror hits Christchurch, New Zealand

Daniel Shevchenko, Student Writer



March 15, 2019, was a day met with grief around the world, having been affected by an event of unprecedented tragedy. The city of Christchurch, New Zealand, suffered a mass mosque shooting on nationalistic and white supremacy grounds—the worst such act of domestic terrorism in the nation’s history.

Ilwarra Mercury
New Zealand Muslims hold a memorial service in commemoration of the victims of the shooting

The event, believed to have been perpetrated by Australian Christian/white supremacist Brenton Terrant, took place at two notable places of Muslim worship in the nearly 400,000 person city of Christchurch—the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre—with separate attacks having occurred with an approximately 15-minute difference in time. The shooting of the former began at approximately 1:40 in the afternoon (New Zealand Daylight Time), with the shooter entering the Al Noor Mosque and opening fire on individuals participating in Friday prayer. 42 people were murdered over a span of less than ten minutes. Following this, the suspect proceeded to drive to the Linwood Islamic Centre, initiating an attack on it 15 minutes only fifteen minutes after his first massacre. The resulting shooting, which culminated in the deaths of seven people, was stopped by a praying member of the mosque, who threw a credit card reader at the shooter before picking up his dropped shotgun, distracting the shooter and pushing him to escape the scene by car.

The shooter was apprehended soon after fleeing Linwood Islamic Centre. Terrant, an Australian who grew up in New Zealand, is a member of the far-right movement of New Zealand, having been found, upon further investigation, to possess several guns and to have visited several countries associated with violent revolutions or acts of terrorism (presumably in correspondence with his views and a desire to begin a movement of ethnic cleansing of Muslims). As he performed the shootings, Tarrant recorded a live-stream of the attacks to Facebook; the video was viewed and posted across several other platforms, prior to being taken down by government authorities and moderators. The shooter was also observed to be playing a variety of nationalistic music and slurs, including those pertaining to ethnic genocides and wars of the Balkans.

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The New Zealand flag at half-staff, as it was flown following the attacks.

Reactions to the event have, on a global scale, been somber. Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern described the incident as having marked “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” and pledged, along with other politicians of the nation, to establish and enforce strict preventative measures against such violence; within days, new legislation scrutinizing and implementing firearm reforms emerged. New Zealand entered a state of national mourning as heads of state expressed their condolences, with the British royal family collectively stating their solidarity with the nation, and Australia ordering all flags to be flown at half-staff in commemoration of the victims. Muslims around the world engaged in prayer for the 50 lives lost and 50 individuals gravely injured.

As the populace of the Earth as a whole grieves over this great loss of life, individual activists and governments as a whole encourage unity and solidarity, with improved recognition of violent or potentially violent behaviors and implementation of laws which may preclude such horrific events from occurring in the future. This particular shooter was observed posting xenophobic content on various social media prior to the attacks, having even announced of his deadly intentions immediately prior to initiating violence at the Al Noor Mosque. In light of this, as far-right movements develop in some regions of the world, and racist or ethnophobic behaviors become increasingly prevalent against certain groups of people, all are urged to maintain dignified views of other people—notwithstanding their beliefs or appearance—and to fight against discriminatory and/or radical attitudes towards any person or population thereof.

The GNA Insider sends its sincerest condolences to the families of the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings and implores all who are opposed to reiterations of such barbarism to come together in expressing the same.