Israel condemns ‘depraved and despicable’ mosque massacre in New Zealand
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Israel condemns ‘depraved and despicable’ mosque massacre in New Zealand

President, PM join world leaders expressing horror at slaughter of Muslim worshipers by a suspected white supremacist in Christchurch

Flowers are placed on the front steps of the Wellington Masjid mosque in Kilbirnie in Wellington, on March 15, 2019, after a shooting attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zeland. (Marty Melville/AFP)
Flowers are placed on the front steps of the Wellington Masjid mosque in Kilbirnie in Wellington, on March 15, 2019, after a shooting attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zeland. (Marty Melville/AFP)

Israel’s president and prime minister on Friday joined with world leaders to express condolences and condemnation following the deadly attacks on mosques in New Zealand.

“I condemn the terrorist attack on the mosques in Christchurch in the strongest possible terms and send my condolences on behalf of the people of Israel to the families of the victims, the injured, the government and the people of New Zealand,” said President Reuven Rivlin.

“Murder of people at prayer, in their most holy and sacred place, is a depraved and despicable act. For people of all religions and of none, a red line has been crossed. Our thoughts and prayers for the full recovery of the injured in the New Zealand terror attack,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also condemned the attack, saying that “Israel mourns the wanton murder of innocent worshippers in Christchurch and condemns the brazen act of terror in New Zealand.”

New Zealand police said at least 49 people were killed Friday at two mosques in the picturesque South Island city of Christchurch. More than 20 were seriously wounded in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a “terrorist attack.”

One man was arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a carefully planned racist attack. Police also defused explosive devices in a car. Two other people were being held in custody and police were trying to determine how they might be involved.

Condemnation came from around the world, while Muslim leaders said the mass shooting was evidence of a rising tide of violent Islamophobia.

In a tweet, US President Donald Trump sent “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand.

He wrote that “49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The US stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attacks the “latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.”

Speaking at the funeral of a former minister, Erdogan said the Islamophobia that motivated the attacks “has rapidly started to take over Western communities like a cancer.”

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan echoed those sentiments.

“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam & 1.3 bn Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim,” he tweeted.

Demonstrators march against the mosque attacks in New Zealand, during a protest in Istanbul, Friday, March 15, 2019. The banner reads in Turkish: ‘Say Stop to Global Terror’. At least 49 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers on what the prime minister called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.” (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

The secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Youssef al-Othaimeen, said in a statement that the attack “served as a further warning on the obvious dangers of hate, intolerance, and Islamophobia.”

Queen Elizabeth II, who is New Zealand’s head of state, said in a message to the country she was “deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch” and sent condolences to families and friends of victims. The queen also paid tribute to emergency services and volunteers supporting the injured.

“At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders,” she said in her message.

Princes William and Harry, together with their spouses, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex, said that their hearts go out to those who lost their lives in the mosque shootings.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted that he learned of the attack “with horror and profound sadness.”

“The European Union will always stand with #NewZealand and against those who heinously want to destroy our societies and our way of life,” he wrote.

In France, home to western Europe’s largest Muslim community, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner ordered regional authorities to bolster security at mosques as a precaution.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the city’s Metropolitan Police force would be visible outside mosques.

“London stands with the people of Christchurch in the face of this horrific terror attack,” he said. “London will always celebrate the diversity that some seek to destroy.”

Young demonstrators hold banners from multi-faith group ‘Turn to Love’ during a vigil at New Zealand House in London, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers on what the prime minister called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” as authorities detained four people and defused explosive devices in what appeared to be a carefully planned attack. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo condemned the attacks, in which an Indonesian father and son were among those wounded. Indonesian Muslim leaders expressed anger at the shooting rampage while urging Muslims to show restraint.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said bigotry in Western countries contributed to the attacks on Muslims in New Zealand. In a Friday tweet, he also criticized the West for “defending demonization of Muslims as ‘freedom of expression.'”

Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted “heartfelt condolences” to New Zealand. “Our collective work against violence & hate must continue with renewed vigor. Our thoughts & prayers are with the families of the victims,” Gargash wrote.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II tweeted that “the heinous massacre against Muslims praying in peace in New Zealand is an appalling terrorist crime. It unites us against extremism, hatred and terrorism, which knows no religion.” Jordan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that one Jordanian was killed and five wounded in the attack.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas extended his country’s sympathies to those who lost loved ones.

“The horrific terrorist attack in Christchurch targeted peacefully praying Muslims — if people are murdered solely because of their religion, that is an attack on all of us,” he said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the “dastardly terrorist attack” in Christchurch.

A telegram of condolences sent by the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life” caused by the “senseless acts of violence” in Christchurch. He assured all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his “heartfelt solidarity.”

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