BRUSSELS — World leaders expressed condolences and condemnation Friday following the deadly attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, while Muslim leaders said the mass shooting was evidence of a rising tide of violent anti-Islam sentiment.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attacks “appalling”, adding the country’s hearts and thoughts go out to those grieving.
Attacking people during prayers is absolutely appalling, and Canada strongly condemns today’s shootings in New Zealand. Our thoughts and hearts go out to the victims and their families, and we join New Zealanders and Muslim communities around the world in grieving.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 15, 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump also took to social media, sending his “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand.
He wrote that “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!”
My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2019
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attacks the “latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.”
Speaking at the funeral of a former minister, Erdogan said the anti-Islam hatred that motivated the attacks “has rapidly started to take over Western communities like a cancer.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan echoed Erdogan.
“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam & 1.3 bn Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim,” he wrote in a tweet.
Shocked and strongly condemn the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attack on mosques. This reaffirms what we have always maintained: that terrorism does not have a religion. Prayers go to the victims and their families.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2019
The secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Youssef al-Othaimeen, said in a statement that the attack “served as a further warning on the obvious dangers of hate, intolerance, and Islamophobia.”
Queen Elizabeth II, who is New Zealand’s head of state, said in a message to the country she was “deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch” and sent condolences to families and friends of victims. The queen also paid tribute to emergency services and volunteers supporting the injured.
“At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders,” she said in her message.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted that he learned of the attack “with horror and profound sadness.”
“The European Union will always stand with #NewZealand and against those who heinously want to destroy our societies and our way of life,” he wrote.
In France, home to western Europe’s largest Muslim community, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner ordered regional authorities to bolster security at mosques as a precaution.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the city’s Metropolitan Police force would be visible outside mosques.
“London stands with the people of Christchurch in the face of this horrific terror attack,” he said. “London will always celebrate the diversity that some seek to destroy.”
In response to the horrific attack in New Zealand, I am in constant contact with @metpoliceuk who are stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques & increasing engagement with communities of all faiths.
Anything suspicious should be reported to the police or on 0800 789 321. https://t.co/rumzULLtp5
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) March 15, 2019
London mosques have been targeted in the past. One man died and several others were injured in 2017 when Darren Osborne drove a van into people leaving evening prayers. Prosecutors say Osborne was motivated by a hatred of Muslims and far-right propaganda he found online.
Heartbreaking news from New Zealand this morning where innocent people have been murdered because of their faith.
London stands with the people of Christchurch in the face of this horrific terror attack. London will always celebrate the diversity that some seek to destroy. pic.twitter.com/QEzYn5IQuN
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) March 15, 2019
In Iran, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi condemned the attack and urged New Zealand authorities to bring to justice those who carried out the “racist, inhumane and barbaric” attacks.
Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted, “heartfelt condolences” to New Zealand.
“Our collective work against violence & hate must continue with renewed vigor. Our thoughts & prayers are with the families of the victims,” Gargash wrote.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas extended his country’s sympathies to the friends and families of the victims of the attack.
“The horrific terrorist attack in Christchurch targeted peacefully praying Muslims — if people are murdered solely because of their religion, that is an attack on all of us,” he said.
The vicious terrorist attack in #Christchurch targeted peaceful Muslims at prayer.
When people are murdered solely because of their religion, this is an attack on us all.
We stand united with the victims. Stay strong, New Zealand! https://t.co/bEub6aY6L5
— Heiko Maas (@HeikoMaas) March 15, 2019
A telegram of condolences sent by the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life cause by the senseless acts of violence at two mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks.”
-With files from Hana Mae Nassar