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 sentiments. 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.
Imam Qari Asim said: “The gunman who brutally murdered innocent worshippers in the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, 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.
The MINAB will continue to offer advice and guidance to imams and mosques on securing their places of worship and protecting worshippers attending Mosques or such other gatherings held by Muslims.
We condemn the horrific attack and commend the bravery of those who took action to save lives.
We plea to our government and international authorities, in particular the populist leaders and sections of the media, to hold those accountable who are spreading hatred against Muslims, causing division in our society.
We thank all those who have shown solidarity to Muslims in such extremely troubling time and have demonstrated that an attack on Muslims is an attack on us all.