It’s hard to find words of sufficiently strong condemnation that describe the horror of the shooting at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday. That the gunman wore a body camera to record his murderous rampage merely adds a perverse dimension to the depths of this massacre of Muslims.
While the full details of this incident are still being unravelled, the toll of 49 innocent worshippers gunned down during Friday prayers, at two separate mosques of Christchurch, another 20 injured and a series of explosive devices left on cars across the city speaks of the level of planning that went into this attack.
Whoever is responsible — New Zealand police confirm that three people are in custody — went to great effort to kill as many innocent victims as possible. It was an attack conceived in hate, an attack conducted in hate, an attack recorded to disseminate hate, but an attack that must not propagate hate.
A clearly shocked New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke for her nation, its stunned people, a grieving Muslim community and almost every right-thinking person around the world shaken by this terrorist attack: “Many affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here … They are us. The person who has perpetrated this violence against us is not.”
In the days to come there will no doubt be details revealed of the hateful motivations that inspired those behind this plot to commit such an egregious atrocity again the Christchurch Muslim community. But it is an attack not just on those mosques — it is a deliberate and wilful shooting against every person of faith, every person who gathers in a place to pray, regardless of their creed or colour, every person with an ounce of humanity in their bones.
This massacre is indeed the darkest day in New Zealand’s history. Our thought and prayers go out to every family and every friend affected by this murderous and monstrous deed. Our deepest condolences go to the nation of New Zealand and we offer every ounce of moral support we can muster now.
Dark days must never be forgotten — and it will indeed take many hours of grieving and pain for that blackness to lighten. But make no mistake, lighten it will and the bonds of goodness that bind us all in the friendship of humanity will endure.
This is not a time for retribution or knee-jerk reactions fuelled by emotions. It is a time for offering support and sympathy. This is an attack on every Muslim, every decent person. It is an attack on us all.