March 17, 2019
Former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have sent their condolences to the people of New Zealand and the Muslim community after mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch left at least 49 people dead.
New Zealand is in mourning after dozens of lives were lost and others critically injured during the terrorist attack carried out on March 15 by at least one self-identified shooter, and the Obamas are “grieving” as well.
In a message shared to his Instagram account, the former president also called on everyone to stand against hate in all its forms.
“Michelle and I send condolences and strength to the people of New Zealand. We grieve with you and with the Muslim community. Every single one of us, every color, every creed, has a daily responsibility to rally against hate and bigotry in all their forms and to stand up for what is good, and decent, and true.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, according to CNN, has described the tragedy as “one of New Zealand's darkest days” and “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence."
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” he added.
The Hill reports that New Zealand officials said they had detained a 28-year-old man who claimed responsibility for the attack. The man revealed that he is Australian and was radicalized online by right-wing influences.
He posted a livestream of the attack online as well as a manifesto which reportedly explained that he was specifically targeting Muslims who invaded “our lands [and] live on our soil” and that it was an “act of revenge against Islam.”
World leaders and political figures, including President Donald Trump, have been sending in their condolences in the wake of the attack.
“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques,” tweeted Trump. “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!”
Online publication, QUARTZ, however, noted that, unlike others, neither the president nor any other official in his administration (which is reputed to be critical of the Islamic religion) directly addressed their condolences to the Muslim community or used the word “Muslim” or “Islam.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly sent his “personal condolences to the Nation of New Zealand in the wake of the mosque attacks,” during a press conference while Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, offered her prayers for the “victims and their families.”
In the meantime, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush has implored the country’s Muslim worshippers to stay away from mosques and other places of worship on Friday.
Our hearts and prayers remain with the Muslim community and the entire people of New Zealand during this difficult time.
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