Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has expressed shock at the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which yesterday claimed the lives of 49 people.
The victims were shot to death during midday prayers by an immigrant-hating white supremacist identified as Brenton Tarrant, who used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the attack on Facebook. Two others believed to have been involved were also arrested but police have not yet determined what their roles were.
In a release issued through the Office of the Prime Minister, Rowley said: “It is with shock and horror that we the people of Trinidad and Tobago received the sad news of the unspeakable tragedy that has been unleashed on the Muslim community and the entire nation of our sister Commonwealth nation, New Zealand.
“In this period of grief the people of Trinidad and Tobago, we who live by the doctrine that every creed and race have an equal place in our nation, unreservedly condemn all words and deeds from whatsoever source, that would have the effect of initiating, encouraging or sustaining hatred in any and all its manifestations.”
Sharing the outrage of other world leaders to the deadliest attack ever in New Zealand’s history, Rowley added: “We call for the widest possible condemnation of this debasing of humanity by those who fail to accept the oneness of the human race. We trust that the people of New Zealand, who today bear this burden for all of us, will find the strength to overcome this tragedy as they stand firm on their principles of nurturing a peaceful and humanitarian nation.”
In a tweet on the attack, meanwhile, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said, “I join all citizens of T&T in condemning the heinous terrorist attack in New Zealand today. T&T stands in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and the Muslim community as we mourn this tragic loss.”
US Ambassador Joseph Mondello also joined the long list of diplomats who condemned the attack as he met with religious leaders of several faiths—Muslim, Hindu, Roman Catholic, Bahá’í, Seventh Day Adventist and Spiritual Baptist—at the Masjid Al Tawbah in Tobago.
Said Mondello: “It’s prophetic on a day like today when tragedy took place in New Zealand that we have this meeting, I honestly believe. Hopefully, this is the way of the future when religions band together, bring people together, so tragedies like we experienced will not happen.
“It’s a horrible thing to live in a time when people cannot go to a mosque, church or temple and express their feelings religiously without fear of being murdered, which is exactly what happened today. All I can say is more power to you, God bless you for what you are doing.”
The Caribbean Community (Caricom) also condemned “in the strongest possible terms this savage act of terrorism perpetrated at places of worship, where people would normally find sanctuary and peace.”
In a statement on the matter, Caricom said: “No ideology or philosophy could justify such gruesome acts. Our Community stands in solidarity today with the Government and people of New Zealand, a country renowned for its diversity and tranquillity. We are confident that this horrendous incident will strengthen the traditional values of peace and harmony for which New Zealand is well-known.
“The bravery of those who went to the assistance of the wounded even as the attack unfolded must be applauded, as well as the swift response by the security forces.”
The regional body also extended sympathies to the government and people of New Zealand and condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives.
“We also wish a full and speedy recovery to those injured.”