In Loving Memory of the Victims of the Christchurch, New Zealand Massacre

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Friday, June 5, 2020
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New Zealand Picks Up the Pieces After the Worst Massacre in Its History. New Zealand’s low-slung second city was cloaked in mourning, shops shuttered and residents zombified, struggling to comprehend the mass shooting that claimed 50 lives — the worst massacre in the history of this nation of five million. Police continued to sweep for evidence outside the Al Noor mosque, where a lone gunman killed 41 people, live-streaming his barbarous crimes in ghastly detail. Seven more people were gunned down at a mosque on the other side of the city in the suburban Linwood neighborhood. One more died in hospital, where another 48 wounded are still receiving care, two in a critical condition. Children are among them.


Shooter of New Zealand Massacre 

 Shooter Making White Suppremacist Hand Sign While in Court in Christchurch, New Zealand

Shackled and wearing a white smock, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, appeared in court Saturday morning charged with murder. A native of Grafton, a pretty town of 17,000 some miles northeast of Sydney, he was seen to make a white supremacist hand gesture to assembled media. Assault rifles used in the massacre were daubed with the names of notorious killers of immigrants. One other 18-year-old has been charged with hate-speech though any connection to the murders is unclear.


World Mourns New Zealand Muslim Victims of Terrorism


Emergency services struggled to deal with the sheer number of victims. All appointments were canceled at Christchurch Hospital, where every available resource was turned over to surgery for the wounded. Family and friends hung around waiting for news of their loved ones. “We came here as we’re wondering who’s a casualty and who’s dead,” Mohammed Ashif, who narrowly escaped the Linwood mosque during the attack.


 This is not US


New Zealand is not at home with such bloodshed. The U.S. has racked up 56 mass shootings so far in 2019. By contrast, New Zealand is ranked the world’s second safest nation. The country’s previous deadliest shooting took place 29 years ago in the small town of Aramoana, where lone gunman David Gray murdered 13 people following a quarrel with a neighbor. Since then, Christchurch’s 400,000 residents have feared the elements more than people; an earthquake in 2011 killed 185 and toppled many downtown buildings in what has been lovingly dubbed the “Garden City.” The biggest story until the massacre was an outbreak of measles that had affected 30 people, receiving around-the-clock coverage.


In Loving Memory - New Zealand Victims - COFL from Community of Lights on Vimeo.


“Even if you ask someone about the earthquake today they will start crying, so this tragedy will stay in the heart of everyone,” says Raj Sandhu, 25, who moved to New Zealand from India three years ago, and came to the Al Noor mosque to pay his respects. “People are very scared and will be for a long time.”


 Mosque Survivers


Fear lies at the heart of all terrorism. In a 74-page hate-filled manifesto published a few days before the massacre, purportedly written by Tarrant, he said he wanted demonstrate that “nowhere in the world is safe.” Describing himself as an “ethnonationalist and fascist,” he said he only arrived in New Zealand three months ago whilst he “planned and trained,” though was persuaded that it “was as target rich of an environment as anywhere in the world.” That was demonstrated in high definition.


vigil in Brampton


The gunman donned a helmet video camera and broadcast live footage of his rampage on Facebook akin to the carnage of shoot-em-up video games. He spent more than two minutes inside the Al Noor mosque spraying terrified worshippers with bullets, coldly executing some people he’d already mowed down, before calmly reloading and even swapping rifles. The footage shows him returning to the mosque, shooting a woman outside, and getting back in his car. The song “Fire” by English rock band “The Crazy World of Arthur Brown” blasts from the stereo, the singer yelling, “I am the god of hellfire!” as the gunman races from the scene.


 New Zealand Police Force


Facebook and other social media that carried the video struggled to purge it from their networks, earning rebukes from the public and industry experts for not acting swiftly enough.



New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern rounded on purveyors of hate during a news conference Friday. Immigrants, she said, ashen-faced, “have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us.” Revelations that Tarrant had a standard gun license from 2017 despite a history of posting of hate-speech online prompted Ardern to say the nation’s gun laws “will change.” New Zealand has a proud record of tolerance and integration, and under Ardern has boosted its annual refugee quota from 1,000 to 1,500 beginning next year. She has called it “the right thing to do.” But not all agree.


Teen Eggs Senator in Australia - Community of Lights on Vimeo


As seen above, a teenage boy cracked an egg on the head of a far-right Australian politician as he spoke to reporters in Melbourne on Saturday. In the footage, Queensland Sen. Fraser Anning is shown immediately turning and striking the boy in the face before taking another swing. Anning was giving an interview to News 7 Sydney when the boy smashed the egg on the side of his head. After Anning threw the two punches, the two were separated and the boy was tackled to the ground by other men. Victoria Police said they arrested the boy but later released him without charge. Police said they are still investigating the incident, including the actions of Anning and others at the scene. 


speak out against hate


The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, said Anning’s comments blaming the Islamic community for the shooting were “appalling and ugly and they have no place in Australia”. The prime minister announced the government would censure him. The Australian Labor party leader, Bill Shorten, said Anning was “chasing a headline”. “I do wonder if he’s made Australians less safe overseas,” he said. “That’s another reason not to give this fool any more oxygen.” A petition calling for Anning’s expulsion from parliament has amassed about 250,000 signatures.  A GoFundMe set up to assist the teen with legal fees has raised more than $52,000 and announced that the majority of the funds would go to victims of the horrific shootings.


Gun Control


Commenting on why he believes New Zealand is likely to bring about "huge" control changes in response to the massacre, while in the U.S. any movement toward tighter gun control measures have been hard-won, Alpers said the difference between the two countries' approaches to gun control was like "chalk and cheese." "In some ways, our gun laws are very, very, very much more stringent than in the U.S., but in that one way, in New Zealand, they are almost identical to the U.S. and that is that there is no registration for almost 96 percent of firearms," Alpers said. "And that includes some of the most common firearms, the ones that are most commonly used in crime, domestic violence and suicide."


Military Style Guns


Where New Zealand differs, however, is that as a nation, it lacks "the United States' fundamental ideological belief in firearms and in firearms being the solution to pretty much anything," Alpers said. "Americans see firearms as the solution to the problem, whereas the rest of the world sees firearms as part of the problem, so there is a fundamental difference between the United States and virtually every other country in the world."


American flag with guns


"Nobody else has the Second Amendment and there is no other country in the world that has a Second Amendment that distorts every facet of firearm injury prevention," Alpers continued. "It's almost impossible to explain why America has such a different approach to firearms to others unless they have experienced it."  "If they haven't been to the United States and seen the deep fascination with guns, the deep reliance on guns, they will find it very difficult to understand. "It's not impossible to explain, but it takes a while to tell people why it's so different in the United States," he said.


US Gun Control




CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced within a week of the massacre, a national ban on all military-style semiautomatic weapons, all high-capacity ammunition magazines and all parts that allow weapons to be modified into the kinds of guns used to kill 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch.



Ms. Ardern’s plan for immediate gun policy changes, announced six days after a mass shooting, stands in stark contrast to the stalemate and resistance to change that has stymied similar calls for restrictions on firearms in the United States.“What we’re banning today are the things used in last Friday’s attack,” she said, adding:  “It’s about all of us, it’s in the national interest and it’s about safety.”



People Pay their Respects for Victims of the March 15, 2019  Mosque Attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand


Tarrant’s manifesto, which decries a “white genocide,” had clear echoes of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people including schoolchildren attending a summer camp in 2011. Indeed, the writer claims to have had “brief contact” with Breivik, who he says gave his “blessing” to the Christchurch attack. Whatever contact existed between the extremists, more than anything the mosque murders illustrate how technology has erased borders, and demonization of “the other” have been normalized in political discourse. The manifesto also claimed U.S. President Donald Trump and American alt-right commentators as inspiration.


 mosque vigil


Clarke Jones, a terrorism expert at Australia National University, says it was “inevitable” that this sort of attack was to take place. Such violence, he says, is “being nearly endorsed by political rhetoric around banning immigration of Muslims and criminalizing refugees.” Those views were apparent even among the onlookers gathered at Al Noor Mosque. “I thought it would be the other way around, the Muslims attacking, that’s what everyone was waiting for,” says Paul Hale, 56, who runs a landscaping business in Christchurch. “It’s pretty bad that all those people got shot, but what if they had done it to us first?”


 New Zealand Mosque


Despite New Zealand’s culture of ethnic harmony, there was also a sense that things were slipping. Stories about minorities in the mainstream media immediately attract hate-filled comments online. The live-streamed massacre received a flurry of “likes” and positive comments from New Zealanders on the extremist website it was originally posted on. Christchurch itself had a reputation for neo-Nazi skinheads in the 70s and 80s, though thought it had left that ugly history behind. There’s a fear that any reprisal attack could ignite the tinderbox. “Right wing and jihadist extremists certainly feed off each other,” adds Khalil. Still, in Christchurch on Saturday, local people refused to be warped by hate, bunkering down in their multicultural identity. With both the city’s mosques shrouded in police tape, churches opened their doors to Muslims wanting to pray. TIME spoke with Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims all desperate not to let this tragedy redefine who they are. Amid a growing mound of flower tributes, someone had left a sign that read: “This is not NZ.”


 New Zealand Victims Mourn


“We never had any trouble here, it was completely unexpected,” says Radhika Kumar, 35, who drove from two hours away to pay her respects. “People are scared. Nobody ever thought something like this could happen in New Zealand.”