Our thoughts and prayers are with the 50 people who have been killed, and dozens more who have been injured, after a gunmen opened fire at mosques in New Zealand during Friday prayers. The attack has been described as the worst such act of violent terror to have been committed on the shores of New Zealand, and will undoubtedly change the lives of those who have been directly affected by it, and those from wider communities, for ever.
It is not yet known how many shooters there were, but one gunman is believed to be an Australian who has written a manifesto outlining his intentions. In it, he espouses far-right ideology and anti-immigrant sentiment. In an even more grotesque twist to an already deeply disturbing incident, the man, who identified himself on Twitter as ‘Brenton Tarrant’ from Australia, livestreamed his deadly attack and turned the camera on himself before carrying out the atrocity.
From the gunmen’s vile manifesto, it appears that he was motivated by Islamophobia. Recently, we have seen a deeply disturbing increase in incidents of Islamophobia, and the rise of the far-right on a global scale, and this is the most violent and deadly manifestation of both alarming trends to date.
We welcome the New Zealand and Australian Prime Ministers’ statements and condemnation of these terrorist attacks, and their underlying messages of unity and solidarity with the communities that have been directly affected.
Imam Qari Asim said: “The gunman who brutally murdered innocent worshippers in the mosque in Christchurch, Newzealand, wanted to spread hatred and fear. Innocent people have been killed in cold blood but we will not let terrorists, Islamophobes and vile-opportunists succeed. We must stand together to drown out extremism and hatred with hope and unity.
Muslims are deeply concerned and anxious about growing levels of Islamophobia across the world. Every one of us must not only repudiate hatred and the demonisation of Muslims and immigrants with our words, but also our actions. Hatred of any community creates a downward spiral of violence and terror, which affects all in a society.
I urge Muslims to remain clam and extra vigilant in this extremely distressing and nerve-wracking time and also urge authorities to protect all of our communities against the growing threat posted by extremist right-wing violent terrorism.
British mosques will hold special services during Friday Prayers in memory of those affected by the terrorist shootings in New Zealand and to reassure their communities.”
It is extremely important that mosque staff, volunteers and worshippers are extra vigilant at these troubling and vulnerable times. Mosques and Islamic centres must continue to support each other and also work with police, local authorities and other relevant organisations to ensure that such spiteful attacks do not happen in Britain.
Faith Associates Mosque and Security tips: http://www.faithassociates.co.uk/publications/mosque-security-and-safety-tips/
Faith Associates’ Incident Management Guide for Mosques: www.faithassociates.co.uk/publications/incident-management-guide-2016/