By Caleigh Calvey.
March 16th 9pm
WARREN OHIO- Friday March 15, 2019 shots rang out at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand. The brutal Islamophobic attack has left 50 confirmed dead and 36 wounded in two separate Mosques in the city. This incident has been identified as the worst mass shooting of its type in the history of New Zealand.
The attack was filmed by the shooter, and reports indicate that it was live-streamed on Facebook for over 17 minutes. It has been widely suggested that the lack of filters to prevent such content from being directly disseminated encouraged the shooter and his followers by giving them a very public forum, in which to express their white supremacist message.
The shooter had a 73 page manifesto, called “The Great Replacement”, in which he states he was formerly: communist; anarchist; an “eco-fascist”, and claiming to espouse multiple conflicting ideological and political viewpoints. The shooter also expressed a desire to influence the gun control debate in the U.S, as a direct result of his acts of mass murder.
The shooter described himself as an “ethno-nationalist”, expressing a white supremacist ideology. He released a manifesto calling upon his “followers” to continue his aggression against immigrants, Roma’s, Indians, Turks, Jews, Muslims, and other immigrant groups. The shooter killed men, women, and infants as young as 2 years old in his rampage.
The savage acts of this terrorist have been denounced across all political spectrums. This attack follows only months after the horrific shootings at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, at which eleven victims, including 2 mentally handicapped adults and a Holocaust survivor were assassinated attending a Simchat Bat (literally, “joy of a daughter”) baby naming ceremony. The victims were killed, on the morning of the Jewish Sabbath. Similarly, Robert Bowers, the shooter in Pittsburgh, was active on an unfiltered internet site known as “Gab”, a site known for its tolerance of hate speech.
Many commentators have attacked the open forum on Facebook, as well as on other social media sites which provide terrorists with a public outlet in which to display their violent acts, hate speech, and their anti-social views.
Across all political spectrums, Republicans and Democrats, Christians, Muslims and Jews, have broadly condemned not only the shooter, but acts of this nature as they have increased in frequency and severity.
The New Zealand shooter was not identified as a terrorist threat by law enforcement prior to the shooting. This further underscores the danger of such individuals enhancing in violent acts where no warning signs are evident to law enforcement. There are fears that copycat vigilantes may engaging in similar acts.
In any society no person should be murdered for exercising their right to freedom of worship as they choose. We should all pray for the victims of such horrific acts.