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New Zealand mosque attacks: World leaders react with disgust

At least 49 people were killed in two Christchurch mosques when gunmen opened fire after prayers on Friday
Muslims in Dhaka, Bangladesh pray for the victims of Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand after Friday prayers (Reuters)

Political and Islamic leaders around the world expressed disgust at the deadly shooting at two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, with some citing rising Islamophobia as responsible.

At least 49 people were killed in the attacks in Christchurch after Friday afternoon prayers when a gunman opened fire on worshippers. Some 48 others, including children, are being treat in Christchurch hospital, with wounds ranging from minor to critical, health authorities said.

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"I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 (where) 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror," Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan posted on social media.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is one of several leaders mentioned in an unverified manifesto written by one of the shooters, said the attack was the latest example of "rising racism and Islamophobia".

"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 wrote on Twitter.

In a statement, Al-Azhar University, Egypt's 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Islamic learning, said the attacks had "violated the sanctity of the houses of God".

"We warn the attack is a dangerous indicator of the dire consequences of escalating hate speech, xenophobia, and the spread of Islamophobia."

More had to be done to promote the co-existence of different religions and cultures, the university said.

It was a sentiment echoed by United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash.

"Our collective work against violence and hate must continue with renewed vigour," he said.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's executive committee, also condemned the attack and warned that "bigotry and racism have been normalised".

"On behalf of the Palestinian leadership and people, I extend our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of the horrific terrorist attack against innocent worshipers in two New Zealand mosques this Friday," she said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with the families of the victims, including several Palestinian families, who lost their loved ones or whose loved ones are now battling serious injuries."

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhathir Mohamad described the attack as a “senseless act of terror on innocent civilians” and said two Malaysians had been injured in the attacks in a statement released on Facebook.

'I urge a moment of self-reflection by politicians on how they impact public discourse around Muslims'

- Baroness Warsi, former British Conservative Party chairwoman

"I hope that the New Zealand government will arrest these terrorists and do the necessary under the law of the country. The government will do everything possible to see that Malaysians there are safe," he said.

London mayor Sadiq Khan, who is a Muslim and was also named in the unverified manifesto, said it was "heartbreaking" that "innocent people have been murdered because of their faith".

"London stands with the people of Christchurch in the face of this horrific terror attack," he added.

On Twitter, Baroness Warsi, former chairwoman of the British Conservative Party who has continually called for an inquiry into Islamophobia in her own party, welcomed statements from party members condemning the attacks, including from Prime Minister Theresa May.

But she said violence "starts with demonisation and villification of communities. I urge a moment of self-reflection by politicians on how they impact public discourse around Muslims".

'They are us'

Three men and one woman were in custody and one man had been charged with murder.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said some of the victims may have been new immigrants and refugees.

"They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand," she said.

'I can't even imagine what would have happened if they were there five minutes earlier'

- Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Shahriar Alam

A city of about 400,000 people, Christchurch has a significant Islamic community, including overseas students.

Indonesia's ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya, told Reuters six Indonesians had been inside one of the mosques when the attack occurred, with three managing to escape and three unaccounted for.

"Indonesia strongly condemns this shooting act, especially at a place of worship while a Friday prayer was ongoing," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a statement.

Afghanistan's ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, Wahidullah Waissi, said on Twitter three Afghans had been wounded.

Two Malaysians were also wounded in the attack, its foreign ministry said.

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Shahriar Alam said it was "extremely lucky" the country's cricket team did not suffer casualties. The team, in the city to play a match against the New Zealand national team, arrived for Friday prayers as the shooting occurred.

"I can't even imagine what would have happened if they were there five minutes earlier," he said on social media.

Social media users sickened by live video

Some people took to social media to express their horror about a live, point-of-view video posted online that appeared to be one of the shooters killing any person he came across in a mosque with an automatic assault rifle.

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The video has yet to be confirmed by authorities as being posted by a shooter involved in the attack.

"Feeling very sick, that person is brainless and a savage," said one Indonesian Twitter user who identified himself as Farhan Adhitama.

Others complained that authorities and the media were slow to label the perpetrators as "terrorists".

"This is a terrorist act. Come on now,” Aszafirah Zafyrah posted on Facebook in Singapore.

"Why is it not called terrorism when Muslims are killed," said Mohammad Hanif, a government employee in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital. "You should be fair enough to call it so."

The Muslim Association of Britain tweeted: "It's time for far-right extremists of whatever name, title or label, be classified as a global #terrorist network which all authorities, must collaborate to root out."

By Friday afternoon, Ardern said the incident was a "terrorist" attack.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian national arrested after the attack was an "extremist, right wing violent terrorist".