51 killed in mosque shootings

15 March 2019

The Al Noor Mosque in August 2019 (Wikipedia)

New Zealand’s Muslim community suffered an horrific attack when a self-proclaimed ‘white nationalist’ opened fire on worshippers at mosques on Deans Avenue and in Linwood in Christchurch. Fifty were killed and another 50 wounded, one of whom died six weeks later.

The gunman used five weapons, including two semi-automatic assault rifles, in the attack, which was livestreamed on some websites. The death toll would have been higher but for the heroism displayed by unarmed men at both mosques, and by the police officers who forced the assailant’s car off the road. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as one of New Zealand’s darkest days.

In the following weeks, memorial events around the country were attended by thousands of people. Mosques welcomed visitors as the Muslim community displayed a remarkable capacity for forgiveness. Millions of dollars were raised to support the victims and their families.

Military-style semi-automatic weapons of the type used in the attack were soon outlawed. The government introduced a buy-back scheme for registered owners of these weapons, more than 60,000 of which were handed in, in return for compensation of about $103 million. The government also planned to register firearms as well as license their owners.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry into what state sector agencies knew or should have known about the accused attacker is to report in mid-2020.

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian who was living in Dunedin at the time of the attacks, was charged with 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder, and one of engaging in a terrorist act. The latter charge was the first laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002. Tarrant pleaded guilty to all charges on 26 March 2020.

Ardern has played a leading role in an international movement to persuade major technology companies to stop the dissemination online of terrorist and violent extremist content.

Community contributions

No comments have been posted about 51 killed in mosque shootings

What do you know?