World leaders on Friday reacted with grief and shock after deadly shootings in two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch left 50 people dead.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a statement expressing his shock, and called upon "all people on this holy day for Muslims to show signs of solidarity with the bereaved Islamic community." Guterres urged people everywhere to work with one another to "counter Islamophobia and eliminate intolerance and violent extremism."
In a statement on Twitter, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was deeply saddened by the attacks and that she condemned racist hatred and acts of terrorism.
Her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, also spoke for the German government, calling the attack on people solely because of their religion "an attack on all of us" and by urging New Zealand to stay strong.
Need for solidarity
Erna Solberg, the prime minister of Norway, where 77 people were killed in a far-right attack eight years ago, has called on the world to fight extremism "in all forms" following the attack, while voicing her solidarity with New Zealand.
"This is a strong reminder of how important it is for all of us to help bring down tensions, work against extremism and that we show solidarity with each other when something like that happens," she told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
New Zealand's head of state, British Queen Elizabeth II, also said she was deeply saddened by the attacks. "At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders," she said in a message. The queen last visited New Zealand in 2002 amid celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sympathy by saying: "Far too often, Muslims suffer unimaginable loss and pain in the places where they should feel safest. To move forward as a world, we need to recognize diversity as a source of strength, and not a threat." Canada, too, knows the pain of such attacks all too well, in 2017, six people were killed and more than a dozen injured after a gunman attacked Muslims worshipping in Quebec.
Leaders of Muslim-majority countries have also offered their sympathies. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all sent messages of condolences. The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wrote in a tweet that "on a day of peace like Friday and at a place of worship like the mosque, we witnessed the most heinous crime of religious hatred."
Malaysia's government slammed the attacks as acts of terror, with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad urging the New Zealand government to do its best to "arrest these terrorists."
The grand imam of Al-Azhar mosque and university in Egypt, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, condemned the attacks and warned of "the grave consequences of hate speech, xenophobia and the spread of Islamophobia."
The presumed attacker in New Zealand posted a manifesto online ahead of the attacks in which he espoused anti-Islam and anti-immigration views.
Scott Morrison, the prime minister of New Zealand's regional neighbor, Australia — where the suspected attacker was born — called the gunman "an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist."
France, which is home to the largest Muslim community in western Europe, has meanwhile said it would step up security measures at mosques and other religious sites in response. The country's president, Emmanuel Macron, also denounced the "odious crimes against the mosques in New Zealand" and said France would work with global partners to combat terrorism.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the news of the attacks "heartbreaking" and sought to reassure the city's Muslim communities by saying police presence would be stepped up around mosques. Mosques in London have been targeted in the past, with a van attack in 2017 claiming one life and leaving several others injured.
Pope Francis denounced what he called "senseless acts of violence" at the two mosques.
US President Donald Trump also tweeted "warmest sympathy and best wishes" to the people of New Zealand after "the horrible massacre in the Mosques (sic)," adding "God bless all!" White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described the attacks as a "vicious act of hate."
Trump has faced criticism in the past of holding and propagating anti-Islam and racist views that could contribute to racially-motivated violence.
tj/sms (AP, dpa)