World leaders expressed condolences and condemnation Friday following the deadly attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, while Muslim leaders said the mass shooting was evidence of a rising tide of violent anti-Islam sentiment.
US President Donald Trump sent his “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to New Zealand, offering America’s help.
My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2019
The gunman, Australian Brenton Tarrant, revealed that he hoped to spark a “civil war in the US” in his sick 74-page manifesto.
In the document, Tarrant said that he supported Mr Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose” but not as a “policy maker”.
New Zealand police said at least 49 people were killed on Friday at two mosques in the picturesque South Island city.
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.
QueenElizabeth 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.
“Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives,” she said.
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.
Prince Charles and his wife, Camillia, Duchess of Cornwall, said they were “utterly horrified to hear of the barbaric attacks”.
“It is beyond all belief that so many should have been killed and injured at their place of worship and our most special and heartfelt sympathy goes out to all the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives,” he said. “This appalling atrocity is an assault on all of us who cherish religious freedom, tolerance, compassion and community. I know that the people of New Zealand will never allow hate and division to triumph over these things they hold dear.”
Princes William and Harry and their wives Catherine and Meghan also released a joint statement.
“We have all been fortunate to spend time in Christchurch and have felt the warm, open-hearted and generous spirit that is core to its remarkable people,” they said. “No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship.
“This senseless attack is an affront to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand, and the broader Muslim community. It is a horrifying assault on a way of life that embodies decency, community, and friendship,” they said. “We know that from this devastation and deep mourning, the people of New Zealand will unite to show that such evil can never defeat compassion and tolerance.
“We send our thoughts and prayers to everyone in New Zealand today. Kia Kaha.”
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 anti-Islam hatred that motivated the attacks “has rapidly started to take over Western communities like a cancer.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan echoed Erdogan.
“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 wrote in a tweet.
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.”
UK Prime Minister Theresa May shared her “deepest condolences in a tweet.
On behalf of the UK, my deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand after the horrifying terrorist attack in Christchurch. My thoughts are with all of those affected by this sickening act of violence.
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) March 15, 2019
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.” London mosques have been targeted in the past. One man died and several others were injured in 2017 when Darren Osborne drove a van into people leaving evening prayers. Prosecutors say Osborne was motivated by a hatred of Muslims and far- right propaganda he found online.
French president Emmanuel Macron condemned the”odious crimes against the mosques in New Zealand”.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said his thoughts were with the victims, families and government of New Zealand after an attack by “fanatics and extremists who want to destroy our societies.”
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 (hash)NewZealand and against those who heinously want to destroy our societies and our way of life,” he wrote.
Originally published as Trump sends ‘warmest sympathy’ to NZ