The Latest: Iranian minister says bigotry led to attack

Iran's foreign minister says bigotry in Western countries has led to the attacks on Muslims in New Zealand

ByThe Associated Press
March 15, 2019, 8:23 AM

ANKARA, Turkey -- The Latest on global reaction to the deadly shootings in two mosques in New Zealand (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

Iran's foreign minister says bigotry in Western countries has led to the attacks on Muslims in New Zealand.

In a Friday tweet Mohammad Javad Zarif said: "Impunity in Western 'democracies' to promote bigotry leads to this."

Zarif also said the prejudice led to "Israeli thugs entering a mosque in Palestine to insult Muslims."

The Iranian foreign minister criticized the West for "defending demonization of Muslims as 'freedom of expression'" and demanded its end.

Earlier on Friday, Iran condemned the attack on two mosques in the city of Christchurch, and asked its government to bring those who carried out the "racist, inhumane and barbaric" attack to justice.


3:15 p.m.

Indonesia's president Joko has condemned the violence that took place in two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch city in which at least 49 people died.

"Indonesia strongly condemns this kind of violence," Joko Widodo told reporters during a working visit to Indonesia's North Sumatra province, "I also express deep condolences to the victims of the attacks."

Widodo said that he had been told of the attacks by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and his government is still gathering information. He urged Indonesian citizens in New Zealand to increase their vigilance.


3 p.m.

Hungary's president has sent a telegram to New Zealand's governor-general expressing all Hungarians' condolences to the families and friends of the victims' in the "ruthless attack" against the two Christchurch mosques.

President Janos Ader said he was "deeply shocked" by the news and wished the injured a speedy and full recovery.

Ader said that "in these difficult hours, we all express our sympathies with those who mourn their loved ones lost in this pointless terror attack."


2:55 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expressing "warmest sympathy and best wishes" to the people of New Zealand after "the horrible massacre in the Mosques."

Trump tweeted Friday as the White House issued a statement condemning the attacks at two mosques in the city of Christchurch that left at least 49 people dead.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described the attack as a "vicious act of hate." She says the U.S. stands in "solidarity" with the people of New Zealand.

New Zealand police said at least 49 people were killed Friday at two mosques in the picturesque South Island city. More than 20 were seriously wounded. Muslim leaders say the mass shooting was evidence of a rising tide of violent anti-Islam sentiment.

Trump tweeted that "innocent people have so senselessly died" and added: "The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!"


2:40 p.m.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sent a message to her New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, expressing her "deep shock" and condemnation of the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch.

Hasina's press wing said the prime minister reached out to Ardern on Friday.

An international cricket match between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been canceled after players from the visiting team narrowly avoided a mass shooting at one of the mosques.

Bangladesh's cricket board president says the team is safe in a locked hotel in Christchurch.


2:40 p.m.

Pope Francis is denouncing the "senseless acts of violence" in the Christchurch mosque shootings and is praying for the Muslim community and all New Zealanders.

In a telegram of condolences Friday, Francis offered his solidarity and prayers to the injured and those who are mourning lost loved ones, and noted that it was a particularly difficult time for security and emergency personnel.

He 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."

The message sent by the Vatican secretary of state ended by saying: "Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength upon the nation."


2:35 p.m.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has sent his condolences to the victims of the mosque attacks in New Zealand that left 49 dead.

Conte on Friday called the attacks "dreadful," noting that the victims were "hit while they were in a place of prayer. All forms of intolerance, hatred and violence are inacceptable."


2:30 p.m.

Iran's foreign ministry has condemned the attack on two mosques in New Zealand.

Iranian state TV Friday said a spokesman of the ministry, Bahram Ghasemi, condemned the shootings as a "terrorist attack."

Iran's ambassador to New Zealand, Jalaleddin Namini, told Iranian state TV that there were no Iranian nationals among those killed or wounded. However, Namini said he is still waiting for a confirmed list of the victims.


2:25 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sent a telegram to the prime minister of New Zealand, expressing her condolences after the attack on two mosques in Christchurch.

"It is a perfidious attack on worshippers and their houses of prayer," Merkel said Friday. "The attack on Muslim citizens is also an attack on New Zealand's democracy and its open and tolerant society. We share these values and thus also the horror of the New Zealanders."

Merkel says she sends her condolences to the relatives of the victims and is wishing the wounded speedy recoveries.


2:20 p.m.

Queen Elizabeth II has expressed her condolences to the people of New Zealand following the attacks on mosques in Christchurch.

The monarch sent a message to the governor general of New Zealand, saying she was "saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives."

The monarch paid tribute to the emergency services and volunteers offering support to the wounded.

She says "at this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders."


2:15 p.m.

The grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni learning, has condemned the mosque attacks in New Zealand, warning of the "grave consequences of hate speech."

Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb said in a statement that today's shooting "sounds the alarm about the importance of not tolerating racist groups" adding that the attack reflects "the grave consequences of hate speech, xenophobia, and the spread of Islamophobia."

He called for more efforts in promoting the principles of tolerance among different religions and cultures, and expressed condolences to the victims' families.


2:10 p.m.

Officials from the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and the Islamic militant group Hamas have sharply condemned the attacks on two mosques in New Zealand.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says he extends his "prayers and tears" to the families of the victims. Erekat denounced the "use of religion for political ends" on Twitter Friday, recalling past attacks targeting places of worship, including Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein's massacre of Palestinian worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron, and the assault on a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, called the carnage in New Zealand "a heinous crime against worshippers in their mosques."

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the attack confirmed "that terrorism knows no's the result of incitement against Islam and Muslims."


2:10 p.m.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says "irresponsible" politicians and media organs that encourage "xenophobia, Islamophobic tendencies and hate speech against Muslims" are as much responsible for the attacks on two mosques in New Zealand as the "despicable" assailants.

Speaking at a joint news conference with European Union officials in Brussels, Cavusoglu also said Friday that two Turkish citizens, identified as Mustafa Boztas and Zekeriya Tuyan, were hurt in the attack but were not in life-threatening conditions.

Turkish authorities were still trying to obtain information about a third Turkish citizen, he said.

Cavusoglu said: "The EU and European countries should not consider attacks and hate speech against Muslims and our religion as freedom of expression and democracy and should take precautions."


2:05 p.m.

The world's largest organization representing Muslim nations has condemned the attack on mosques in New Zealand that killed at least 49 people.

The secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Youssef al-Othaimeen, said in a statement Friday the attack "served as a further warning on the obvious dangers of hate, intolerance, and Islamophobia."

Al-Othaimeen called on New Zealand "to provide more protection to the Muslim communities living in the country."

He also offered his condolences for those affected by the mass shooting.

The OIC is based in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.


2:05 p.m.

The prime minister of Norway, which saw 77 people killed in a far-right attack eight years ago, has expressed solidarity with New Zealand after deadly attacks on two mosques.

Erna Solberg told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that "although it is across the globe, this is a strong reminder of how important it is for all of us to help bring down tensions, work against extremism, and that we show solidarity with each other when something like that happens."

In July 2011, confessed Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people. Like the presumed New Zealand attacker, he posted a manifesto online before the attacks.

"This looks like it is a terrorist attack from the extreme right against immigrants and refugees," Solberg said, adding it is "a reminder that we have to fight extremism in all forms."


1:10 p.m.

Gulf Arab states are condemning an attack on mosques in New Zealand that killed at least 49 people.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all offered their sympathies Friday over the attack.

Saudi Arabia said one of its citizens was lightly wounded in the attack, but survived.

Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, tweeted his condolences, noting that "on a day of peace like Friday and at a place of worship like the mosque, we witnessed the most heinous crime of religious hatred."

Noon prayers on a Friday are an integral part of Islamic life, a day when all practicing Muslims join congregations to listen to a sermon.


1 p.m.

Japan's top government spokesman has offered his condolences to the victims of mosque attacks in New Zealand and says Japan stands by the people of that country.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, in a regular news conference Friday, expressed "heartfelt condolences" to the shooting victims and their families, while extending sympathy for the injured.

Suga expressed "solidarity with the people of New Zealand."

Japan's Foreign Ministry issued an emergency safety advisory to Japanese nationals in the area, urging them to stay indoors and follow instructions from the local authorities.

The ministry also advised the Japanese in Christchurch to closely monitor local news "to secure your own safety."

So far no Japanese have been affected by the attacks


12:55 p.m.

Malaysia's government has slammed the attack on two mosques in New Zealand as an act of terror.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he regretted the incident and urged the New Zealand government to do its best to "arrest these terrorists."

The foreign ministry said two Malaysians were wounded and have been hospitalized.

"Malaysia condemns in the strongest terms this senseless act of terror on innocent civilians and hopes that those responsible for this barbaric crime be brought to justice," the ministry said in a statement.


12:25 p.m.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has tweeted that she was "shocked by the attack in Christchurch," saying "we condemn terrorism in all forms."

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen also commented that "extremism has again shown its ugly face."

Denmark's Jewish community, which was targeted in a February 2015 attack where a guard was shot and killed, also expressed "shock" at the news of the New Zealand attack.


12:20 p.m.

France is increasing security measures at mosques and other religious sites after the deadly attack against two mosques in New Zealand.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tweeted Friday that he ordered regional prefects to send patrols and reinforce surveillance of places of worship "as a precaution."

French President Emmanuel Macron, also in a tweet, denounced the "odious crimes against the mosques in New Zealand" and said that France will work with international partners to fight terrorism.

The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris condemned the attack in Christchurch, which left at least 49 dead.

France is home to western Europe's largest Muslim community. While French Muslim and Jewish sites are sporadically targeted by vandals, France has not seen a major attack on mosques of the kind that targeted New Zealand.


12:15 p.m.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has expressed solidarity with the people of New Zealand following attacks on worshippers attending prayers at two Christchurch mosques.

Khan, said in a statement Friday that the news is "heartbreaking."

He says: "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."

Khan sought to reassure Muslim communities in London following the attacks, saying that the Metropolitan Police would be visible outside mosques.

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 been radicalized by far-right propaganda he found online.


12:10 p.m.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says he's shocked at the "terrible attacks" that killed dozens of worshippers attending Friday prayers in two mosques of New Zealand's capital, Christchurch.

In a tweet sent on Friday, Sanchez sent condolences to the victims, its families and the government of New Zealand.

"We emphatically condemn violence and the lack of reason of fanatics and extremists who want to break our societies," Sanchez has written.


12:05 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister says the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch are a "brutal crime" that touches people of all religions around the world.

In two tweets, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Friday Germany's sympathies were with the friends and families of the victims of the attack.

He says "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."

Maas says "we stand at the side of the victims. Stay strong New Zealand!"


12:05 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is calling on Western nations to rapidly take measures to curb rising racism against Islam and Muslims, saying new attacks such as the mass shootings in New Zealand would otherwise be "inevitable."

Speaking at the funeral of a former minister on Friday, Erdogan renewed his condemnation of the attack on two mosques in Christchurch.

Erdogan said: "It is clear that the understanding that the murderer — who also targeted our country, our people and my person — represented, has rapidly started to take over Western communities like a cancer." It was an apparent reference to reports that a suspect had left behind a 74-page manifesto that also threatened Turks.

Erdogan continued: "I call on Western countries especially to rapidly take measures against this dangerous turn that threatens the whole of humanity."


11:35 a.m.

Pakistan's prime minister has condemned attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, saying he blames rising Islamophobia.

Imran Khan wrote Friday on Twitter that "terrorism does not have a religion."

He added: "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."

Pakistani officials say there are no Pakistani citizens among the dead.

Pakistan has witnessed several attacks on places of worship in the past decade, especially targeting its minority Shiite community.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also tweeted her condolences.

Tsai said: "I'm utterly saddened by the mass shooting in Christchurch, #NewZealand. My thoughts go to the victims & their families."


10:50 a.m.

A top diplomat in the United Arab Emirates is offering his condolences over an attack on mosques in New Zealand that killed at least 40 people.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted "heartfelt condolences" to New Zealand on Friday.

Gargash wrote: "Our collective work against violence & hate must continue with renewed vigor. Our thoughts & prayers are with the families of the victims."

The UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, is home to expatriate workers from Australia and New Zealand. The country is a staunch Western ally.


10:25 a.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch calling it the "latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia."

Tweeting in English and Turkish on Friday, Erdogan said: "On behalf of my country, I offer my condolences to the Islamic world and the people of New Zealand, who have been targeted by this deplorable act."

He also wished a speedy recovery to the wounded.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said 40 people were killed in the attack on two mosques.

Turkey's private NTV news channel quoted Turkish embassy officials as saying there are no Turkish citizens among the dead.

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