Terrorist attack in New Zealand: ‘There is a large unity’

New Zealand was in shock after the terrorist attack on 2 mosques. Lawrence Murray CC0 by 2.0

New Zealand. Christchurch. Friday Prayer. Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian born man, started his streaming on Facebook Live while driving to the Al Noor Mosque. The camera was on a helmet and it showed how he entered the mosque at 1:40 pm. Right before shooting, he was listening ‘The British Grenadiers’, ‘Serbia Strong’, marching songs.

Brenton Tarrant was shooting inside for three minutes, returned to his car to take more ammunition, then he went back and continued fire. After three more minutes, he left the place. At 1:55 PM he attacked the Linwood Islamic Centre, which is five km apart from the Al Noor Mosque. Police caught Brenton in 21 minutes after the first 111 call.

In the manifest, which is titled  ‘The Great Replacement’, he speaks against Muslim refugees who are moving out from their home. He claims to the white-power as did Anders Behring Breivik, who committed an attack in Norwegian in 2011. This manifest includes information about planning the attack (two years prior), selecting places (three months prior) and also his right-wing views. Tarrant e-mailed it to more than 30 recipients, including the Prime minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern.

After the attack
The manifest is now unlawful, which means that nobody has the right to distribute it. The same thing happened with the life-stream, which was deleted from Facebook and other sources. Prime minister called the terrorist attack an ‘act of extreme and unprecedented violence’. ‘These extreme views have absolutely no place in New Zealand and no place in the world’ said she at the day when the attack happened.

Klaas Van den Bossche, a student from Thomas More doing an internship in a small company in Auckland, was immediately informed about the events. ‘My roommate said that something had happened and they asked there for everyone to stay inside. He didn’t know all the details. Later on, the first images and messages came in.’

‘It doesn’t matter from which country the terrorist is.’

Also, Lotte Martens, a student from Thomas More who lives in Auckland now, was at her workplace when this attack happened. She said: ‘At the beginning, somebody started laughing because nobody took it seriously. This has never happened here. When we realized how extreme it was, of course, we were worried and shocked.’

The government has taken actions regarding the weapon law, they have already forbidden semi-automatic rifles. Besides legal actions, the media refused to give details about the killer. ‘They mainly tried to do this because it doesn’t matter from which country the terrorist is. He wasn’t from New Zealand, he was from Australia. But the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said ‘I’m not going to say his name, I’m not going to pay attention to him, he just has to be forgotten. For us, he’s nobody, not a person, not even a human anymore.’

Even though most of New Zealand’s residents are very concerned with the Muslim community, there are some people with extreme thoughts.’This terrorist was a lone wolf, those are people from the community which are very hard to reach, they often have extreme ideas.’

There have been nationwide tributes of support and empathy towards the victims and their relatives. ‘The next few days you saw messages about respect and empathy everywhere. I was walking in the city and I passed by a house where the Muslim community meets and people wrote all over the pavement with messages of support in chalk. The entire pavement was full. On a certain place where they were building a new construction site, there were white panels to keep people out. But the city allowed the people to write on those panels, messages of respect and empathy. There is a large unity in New Zealand.’

‘There were never any problems inside the country.’

This was the biggest attack in the history of New Zealand, its inhabitants were completely shocked that something like this could ever happen in their country. Klaas describes New Zealanders as very open and friendly people. ‘Especially in New Zealand there is a mixture of different nationalities and there were never any problems inside the country. They never had issues with the Muslim community but I think that right now, there is a sort of better understanding.’

Even though at the beginning the society was shocked, right now ‘The country doesn’t have fear anymore. People are moving on, holding hands’, says Lotte.

Text: Ekaterina Korneva and Aram Van den Eynde, photo: Lawrence Murray (CC0 by 2.0)