New Zealand Twin Terror Attacks: 51 Souls Lost


Courtesy of Buzzfeed

Aleeza Adnan, News Editor

Gun violence is an issue that is commonly seen within the borders of the United States and increasingly becoming a universal problem. On March 15th, the day of a weekly Muslim prayer, a gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people and injuring 49.

  The mass shootings occurred at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre. The 28-year-old shooter has been identified as Brenton Tarrant, an Australian man. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has tried to keep the man’s name limited in publications. The gunman had live-streamed the event to his Facebook and expressed a White supremacist ideology by labeling immigrants as “invaders.”

  Immediately after the attack, mosques around the country were instructed to close for the day until further notice. The shooting happened during Jumma namaz, a spiritual congregation in the mosques with complete silence until Tarrant walked in with his gun.

  The first victim had said “salam” to the mass shooter, a greeting that means “peace be with you,” right before getting hit by a bullet.  

  The youngest victim was a three-year-old boy and Muslims from all backgrounds were killed. There were four identified Egyptians, three Turkish people, one Palestinian, and six Pakistanis.  

  Abdul Aziz prevented deaths at Linwood mosque by not hiding and instead facing off the shooter. Aziz bravely called out “Come here!” to the shooter and created a distraction until the man eventually sped away in his car.

  After the devastating attacks, Prime Minister Ardern spoke out in a press conference where she condemned the attack, not wanting to bring more hate into the nation.

  She criticized supremacist ideologies and brought the country’s values into light by saying, “We reject the notions and we must continue to reject them. This is not an enclave for that kind of behavior and that kind of ideology… I am not going to let this change New Zealand’s profile. None of us should.”

  Last year in February, after the Parkland shooting, President Trump, was also urged to take gun reform action. However, he had recommended having guns be handed to teachers in the classroom instead of limiting distribution. The nation had speeches, memorials, and then silence.

  On the other hand, since the New Zealand attacker had used five guns, which he obtained legally from a license acquired in November 2017, Ardern has guaranteed that New Zealand gun laws will change. She has assured a ban on assault rifles. “Within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer,” she said that Saturday morning.

  The Prime Minister is also working with her cabinet to track down all the events that led up to the act of terrorism. Ardern flew to Christchurch shortly after the conference.  While wearing a black headscarf and traditional Muslim wear, she met with the grieving families and laid flowers at Kilbirnie Mosque in Wellington.

  People all over New Zealand have laid flowers at mosques around the country, mourning with the fifty-one families. Christchurch’s Royal Botanic Garden was the main memorial site.

  The Black Power biker gang also honored the victims as they performed a haka, a traditional Maori dance. Students also took part in the support. A middle and high school in New Zealand, Orewa College, had students stand in a heart shape and form the words “Kia Kaha,” which mean “stay strong” in Maori.

  New Zealand’s neighbor, Australia, also showed solidarity by projected a silver fern, the symbol of New Zealand on the Sydney Opera House. However, not all Australians have been supportive.

  An Australian senator, Fraser Anning, blamed Muslims for the Christchurch mosque, stating that they typically cause these attacks and this is only the first time they have received one in return. A teenage boy named Will Connolly responded by hitting the man’s head with an egg while recording on his phone.

  Jana Abulaban (9) saw the viral video of the boy and commented, “The Australian Senator has mentioned in his speech that it was the victims’ fault and not the terrorist that has killed all these victims. From a Muslim person’s perspective, I can tell you that any ‘Muslim’ who does any terrorist thing is not an actual Muslim. Ardern’s words are based upon fallacious ideas people still cruelly possess. They are ideas that will only spread hate and not end it. No religion has ever been or will ever be about hate.”

  Muslims all over the world are still holding funeral prayers for the martyrs. West High’s Muslims Student Association is organizing a memorial for the victims in the library on Friday, March 22nd.

  Uzair Pasta (11), President of MSA, has expressed deep sorrow for the incident. He has hope for a better future and said, “We can have change if we believe in change. By putting an end to semi-automatic rifles, Ardern has shown us that it’s possible to limit the presence of guns in our households. We just have to make that limitation a reality, not just in the United States, but worldwide.  Like the Egg Boy, we all need to crack the shells of ignorance we’ve surrounded ourselves in.”

  The cars from the 51 victims are still parked in the location they were prior to the shooting. They represent the spiritual devotion of the Muslim community and the loss New Zealand faced on one of its darkest days along with. Prayers and thoughts are sent to the families of the victims; they have support from the rest of the world and will not be mourning alone.