Muslim nations call for measures against Islamophobia after New Zealand attack

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern waves as she leaves after the Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 22, 2019.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern waves as she leaves after the Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 22, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL (REUTERS, AFP) - Muslim nations on Friday (March 22) called for “genuine” measures against Islamophobia after the attack on two New Zealand mosques that killed 50 people. 

Violence driven by Islamophobia requires “genuine, comprehensive and systematic measures to address this affliction,” ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation said in a statement after a meeting in Istanbul. 

The OIC said attacks against mosques and murders of Muslims showed the “brutal, inhumane and horrific outcomes” of hatred of Islam.  It called for countries with Muslim communities, minorities or migrants to refrain from “statements and practices that associate Islam with terror, extremism and threats” to society. 

During the March 15 attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant killed 50 men, women and children – the victims aged between three and 77 years old – and left dozens injured. 

The self-avowed white supremacist livestreamed much of the attack and spread a manifesto on social media claiming it was a strike against Muslim “invaders”. 

At the OIC meeting, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for a global fight against rising Islamophobia like “anti-Semitism after the Holocaust”. 

“Just as humanity fought against anti-Semitism after the Holocaust disaster, it should fight against rising Islamophobia in the same determined fashion,” Erdogan said. 

He also said the reaction and empathy shown by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern following the attack in Christchurch should be an example to world leaders.

He thanked the people and the authorities of New Zealand for their sensitivity and determination against the attack in his speech at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters had arrived in Turkey early Friday for what he called "substantial" talks after comments made by Erdogan over the killing of 50 people at the mosques sparked a diplomatic spat between the nations.

Erdogan, campaigning for local elections this month, has presented the attack as an assault on Islam and has demanded the West do more to counter Islamophobia.

He has angered New Zealand by repeatedly showing a video made by the mosque gunman of the attack that killed 50 people.

Erdogan has also angered Australia with comments about anti-Muslim Australians being sent back in "coffins" like their grandfathers at Gallipoli, a World War I battle.

The accused gunman, a self-avowed white supremacist from Australia, livestreamed much of the attack and spread a manifesto on social media claiming it was a strike against Muslim "invaders".

 
 
 

Speaking at the OIC meeting, Peters reassured Muslims living in the country they would be "safe and secure" despite the deadly attacks on two mosques in Christchurch.

"Ensuring Muslim communities in New Zealand feel safe and secure is a particular focus," said Peters, who is also New Zealand's foreign minister.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu praised New Zealand authorities and their "sincere solidarity messages".

"We are here to show we are one body against Islamophobic actions across the world," he said.