Parliament honours victims, Churches open for Muslims to pray

Parliament honours victims, Churches open for Muslims to pray

RNZ, Wellington, March 20, 2019

Parliament honoured the victims of the Christchurch terror attacks, opening the session yesterday (March 19, 2019) with a Muslim prayer, while Churches have opened their doors to give Muslims a safe place to pray.

Imam Nizam Ul Haq Thanvi and Trevor Mallard lead a multifaith procession into The House (RNZ Photo by Rebekah Parsons-King)

Prime Minister vows

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed to never mention the name of the man charged with murder over the Christchurch Mosque shootings, saying he is a terrorist and extremist.

Police are still urging people to stay away from Mosques until the risk level drops but Churches across the country are opening their doors to allow Muslims a safe place to pray.

Some owners of semi-automatic weapons have voluntarily surrendered them to Police, although Police do not yet have any figures on how many have been handed so. 

Gun City, which sold four weapons and ammunition to the accused gunman, seems to have removed certain types of semi-automatic rifles from its online store.

Security agencies under pressure

Security agencies have come under pressure to explain why they appear to treat Muslims as more of a threat than the alt-right and white supremacists.

The Islamic Women’s Council has said it told the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet at a January 2017 meeting of the ‘extreme urgency’ of its concerns about rising racism and the alt-right, and also told this to the SIS.

However, former Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said the response of officials to Muslims over what they see as a growing threat to them was “diabolical.”

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards wants Facebook to give the names of anyone who shared the livestream of the mosque shootings to police. The livestream appeared and spread quickly on Facebook on Friday. The company said it removed 1.5 million copies of the video in the 24 hours after the attack.

Floral tributes at the Press Conference held at the Botanic Gardens (Photo for RNZ by Simon Rogers)

Social Media giants warned

New Zealand internet providers Vodafone NZ, Spark and 2degrees have sent an open letter to the chief executives of social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google saying more needs to be done to prevent horrific content from being uploaded. It asked them to be part of an urgent discussion at an industry and New Zealand government level on the issue.

At an all government media conference, the Canterbury District Health Board confirmed that 30 people are still in hospital as a result of the attacks, with nine in intensive care, while Customs said it was working to help the process of returning bodies to families overseas and Immigration NZ said 65 visas had been granted for travelling family members of the victims.

It was announced on Tuesday (March 19) evening that 12 victims have been formally identified to the satisfaction of the Coroner and six have been returned to families.

Companies and individuals have been continuing to give support to victim’s family and friends. Meat companies have rushed to provide support to Christchurch’s halal butchers, while some taxi drivers have been preparing free food for those affected by the attacks and transporting people free of charge.

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