Istanbul, Turkey, March 22, 2019
Foreign Minister Winston Peters has told the world Islamic community that New Zealand will continue to be a caring and comforting nation and look after its Muslim population and that the country’s strength and solidarity are derived from New Zealanders and their unity.
Greeting to the delegates in the Islamic tradition, Mr Peters said that the teachings of Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) about feeding the hungry and greeting with peace those you know and those you do not know, are so seriously true.
Stating that the meeting was being held under the ‘most appalling of circumstances,’ he said that it was important t discuss how to respond to the sickening terrorist attack that took place in Christchurch, New Zealand one on March 15, 2019.
The following is the edited version of his Speech at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Emergency Meeting on the Christchurch terror attack held in Turkey yesterday (March 22, 2019).
Winston Peters’s Speech in Istanbul on March 22, 2019 (TVNZ News)
That was a day that changed our country – a day when a coward, not from New Zealand, attempted to terrorise us and tear us apart. During their worship on their holy day within the sanctuary of the Mosque, our Muslims were attacked in an utterly callous and cowardly act of terrorism,” he said.
Fifty people were murdered. Fifty more were wounded. Many are still hospitalised.
Instantaneous Police response
The Police response was instantaneous. The first police officers arrived at the scene of the attack within just five minutes, and within 21 minutes, the terrorist was arrested. From here, this person will face the full force of New Zealand law.
He will spend the rest of his life in isolation in a New Zealand prison.
To ensure no stone is left unturned in his prosecution, our Police have started mounting the largest investigation in our history in New Zealand. No punishment could match the depravity of his crime, but the families of the fallen will have justice.
Attack on New Zealand
This was an attack that affected Muslims most directly. Innocent people who were killed as they practised their religion. In a country that practices religious tolerance, an attack on one of us, observing their beliefs, is an attack on all of us.
New Zealanders across the length and breadth of our nation feel a profound sense of grief and loss. Millions have embraced their Muslim neighbours. They have laid flowers at mosques up and down the country. They have stood watch in all of our main cities. And they have given money in aid of the victims – well over ten million dollars in a few short days have been donated by New Zealanders to their families.
Mourning with families
As a nation, we have and will pay respect to the dead, the maimed and the bereaved. Together with our Prime Minister and leaders of our other political parties, we have been in Christchurch mourning with the families.
It was there that we were grateful to receive the visit of the Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay and our Chairman today (Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt) Çavuşoğlu to pay their respects to the victims’ families.
We also acknowledge the many planned visits from others represented here.
Islamic Prayer in Parliament
Our Parliament convened earlier this week to mourn. This is the most ethnically diverse Parliament in New Zealand’s history and it opened for the first time with an Islamic prayer in the presence of several Imams and representatives of many other faiths.
Today in New Zealand our country stopped for a call to prayer followed by two minutes silence. This time next week, we will have a national memorial service. We hope many at this forum will be represented. None of this, of course, could ever be an adequate expression of our national grief.
Our Government is providing every support to the living victims of this despicable attack. We will look after them.
Ensuring Muslim communities in New Zealand feel safe and secure is a particular focus. Police stand guard outside all mosques to ensure people can pray in peace. And there is an elevated police presence throughout the country.
Strict Gun Control
New strict gun control measures have already been announced.
We will confront the way social media is used to spread vile hatred. For extremism has no race, religion or colour. It must be condemned, whatever form it takes.
A full inquiry will be conducted to help to do everything we can to stop such a senseless attack in the future.
Whenever and wherever a terrorist strikes, the aim is to provoke fear and panic. In New Zealand, it has failed. It failed because our thoughts are not the terrorist’s thoughts, and his extremist ways are not our ways.
And to be clear, in New Zealand hate speech is not tolerated.
While everything else may have changed in our country on March 15, New Zealand’s essential character has not and will not.
New Zealand is and will remain a safe and open society. A place where our international visitors feel comfortable and secure. We are a compassionate, tolerant people.
Strong social values
This horrific attack cannot shake those core values, because this is who New Zealanders are.
We have been overwhelmed by messages of sympathy, of support and of solidarity that have come from our friends all across the world.
We have been humbled to have the global Muslim community stand with us in our bleakest hour.
Today, tomorrow and into the future, let us continue to stand together in stamping out the hate-filled ideologies that led to last Friday’s terrible tragedy. Out of despair, let us work with a renewed vigour to spread tolerance, compassion and understanding.
Shukran – Al salaam Alaikum