BRUSSELS—Several European groups swiftly condemned the massacre of Muslim worshippers in the city of Christchurch, New Zeland.
At least 49 people were killed and 20 injured Friday in armed assaults by a suspected white nationalist on two crowded mosques. New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said it was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and an “extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence”.
Police took three men and a woman into custody after the shootings, which shocked people across the nation of 5 million people. One of the suspects was later charged with murder.
Authorities have not specified who they detained, but said none had been on any watch list. A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for the attack.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) said it is ‘ utterly shocked and appalled by the horrific massacre.’’ “For many years we warned that the hateful ideology that has taken so many Jewish lives would go on to orchestrate attacks against other communities,” said EJP President Moshe Kantor. “Today, tragedy has struck our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
‘’We stand in solidarity with the families of the victims and pray for a speedy recovery for those injured. The Jewish communities of Europe stand with you in this hour of pain.”
Kantor concluded that anti-Muslim hatred, antisemitism, racism and xenophobia ‘’must be combatted at the source.’’ ‘’It is time that we join forces in a global coalition against hatred and extremism to prevent other horrific tragedies,’’ he said.
In New York, World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder also expressed ‘’horror and revulsion’’ at the attacks on the mosques.
He said : ‘’I extend my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the victims, and to the people of New Zealand. We must redouble efforts to combat hatred and division in our societies, from wherever it emanates.”
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and its National President Morton A. Klein and Chairman Mark Levenson,w who condemned ‘’with all our hearts the horrific murder of 49 innocent Muslims while at prayer in mosques,’’ said the ‘’vicious terrorists who perpetrated this monstrous act are nothing less than evil scum.’’
‘’The Jewish community is especially sensitive to such horrible religious hate crimes and murders since almost 60% of all religious hate crimes in America are committed against Jews,’’ they added.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, “This attack underscores a trend that ADL has been tracking: that modern white supremacy is an international threat that knows no borders, being exported and globalized like never before. The hatred that led to violence in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville is finding new adherents around the world. Indeed, it appears that this attack was not just focused on New Zealand; it was intended to have a global impact.”
“We are devastated by the loss of life in Christchurch and mourn this tragedy with Muslims around the world,” Greenblatt continued. “No one should be targeted for their faith or their immigrant status, and it is unconscionable that the shooter singled out Muslims during their hours of prayer. We stand in solidarity with Muslims around the world and unequivocally condemn Islamophobia.”
The Jewish community in Pittsburgh, which lost 11 members in last October’s Tree of Life Synagogue attack, also committed by a white supremacist assailant, is raising money for the Muslims of Christchurch.
British Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl said, “We are horrified by this sickening terrorist attack against Muslims at mosques in New Zealand. To the victims, the survivors and their families, together with Muslims around the world who have been targets of rising hatred, whipped up by media hostility, we express our absolute and resolute solidarity.”
Many synagogues in New Zealand were closed on Friday due to security concerns and as an expression of solidarity with the country’s Muslim community.
Israel’s leaders also strongly condemned the attack on the two mosques in Christchurch.
“Israel mourns the wanton murder of innocent worshipers in Christchurch and condemns the brazen act of terror in New Zealand. Israel sends its condolences to the bereaved families and its heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted.
The “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 redline has been crossed,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said.