Samuel Esteva-Canas Staff Writer
New Zealand is a peaceful country located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean within Oceania. The island’s geopolitical features isolate it from the rest of the world, but its good standards of life call the attention of thousands of tourists every year. Also, in Dec. 2018 the American business magazine Forbes declared New Zealand the fifth best country in the world for business, second best for investor protection and the least corrupt country in the world. Additionally, New Zealand was the first major nation to have universal suffrage. Since 1893, all male and female citizens have legally been allowed to vote. Thus, this was the first country to have its three top positions of power held simultaneously by women: Prime Minister Helen Clark, Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright and the Chief Justice Sian Elias.
New Zealand’s great success and social advancement leads to the following question: How one of the most pacific, developed, and wealthy countries in the world could experience the massacre of fifty people in a hate-filled terror attack? The whole world was shocked after 28-year-old Australian citizen Brenton Harrison Tarrant murdered fifty Muslim followers in two mosques in the city of Christchurch. In addition to thirty-four victims who remain in Christchurch Hospital, including twelve of whom are in intensive care. According to New Zealand police authority, the shooter live streamed the attack on social media, making the video available for thousands of people all around the world. Obviously, he knew police officers would arrest him after the attack, but he did not care. Tarrant faces life in prison and is already a “marked man” behind bars, the New Zealand Herald reported.
According to the Fiji Muslim League, Hafiz Musa Patel, an imam at a mosque in Fiji, was among the victims. Patel was an imam at Lautoka Jame Masjid for the past 25 years. Him and his wife had then traveled to Christchurch weeks ago to spend time with his children and to visit friends, Fiji’s national broadcaster reported. Also, Sayyad Milne, a 14-year old student at Cashmere High School in Christchurch was also amongst the victims. Sayyad’s father, John Milne, told the New Zealand Herald that his “little boy” was an avid football player who had just recently turned fourteen. Like Sayyad and Patel, dozens of families cry the loss of their relatives and millions of people around the world pray for them and for justice.
Tarrant appeared in court on Saturday, March 16, where he was charged with one count of murder under the Crimes Act. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters on Sunday, March 17, that the legal proceedings for the killer were still in the early stages, but said she was “seeking advice” on what will follow. “Charges have been laid, we can expect additional charges, he’ll be appearing in the High Court on the fifth of April, so there is a process that needs to be gone through here,” Arden said. New Zealand Police department reported that they are considering further murder charges, as well as additional charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act.
The White House also had its own take on the issue, claiming that “It’s unfair to call New Zealand mosque shooting suspect a President Trump supporter.” A top White House official says it’s unfair to cast the alleged New Zealand mosque shooter as a supporter of President Trump based on one reference to Trump in a manifesto the suspect released before the attack. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney tells “Fox News Sunday” that the shooter was a “disturbed individual” and “evil person.” Mulvaney says attempts to tie the shooter to any American politician “probably ignore some of the deeper difficulties that this sort of activity exposes.”
Although this massacre is an extremely delicate topic to discuss, Australian Sen. Fraser Anning has been widely condemned for blaming Muslim immigration for racist attacks. In response to Anning’s racist and Islamophobic comments, Will Connolly, a 17-year-old, cracked an egg on his head. Anning “retaliated and struck the teen twice” before the boy was dragged to the ground by Anning supporters, a police statement said. On Sunday, March 17, Prime Minister Scott Morrison took the side of the egger, telling reporters, “The full force of the law should be applied to Sen. Anning.”