Christchurch mosque shootings
The Al Noor Mosque in August 2019
The mosques are located in Christchurch, New Zealand
Al Noor Mosque
Al Noor Mosque
Linwood Islamic Centre
Linwood Islamic Centre
Christchurch is located in New Zealand
Christchurch
Christchurch
LocationChristchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
Coordinates
Date15 March 2019; 5 years ago (15 March 2019)
1:40 – 1:59 p.m. (NZDT; UTC+13)
TargetMuslim worshippers
Attack type
Mass shooting,[1] terrorist attack,[2] shooting spree, mass murder, right-wing terrorism, hate crime
Weapons
Deaths51[a]
Injured40
PerpetratorBrenton Harrison Tarrant
Motive
VerdictPleaded guilty to all charges
Convictions51 counts of murder
40 counts of attempted murder
One count of committing a terrorist act
Sentence52 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, plus 480 years[9]

The Christchurch mosque shootings were two consecutive mass shootings on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March 2019. They were committed by Brenton Tarrant who entered both mosques during Friday prayer, firstly at the Al Noor Mosque at 1:40 p.m. and later at the Linwood Islamic Centre at 1:52 p.m.

Tarrant was arrested after his vehicle was rammed by a police unit as he was driving to a third mosque in Ashburton. He live-streamed the first shooting on Facebook, marking the first successfully live-streamed far-right terror attack, and had published an online manifesto before the attack. On 26 March 2020, he pled guilty[10][11] to 51 murders, 40 attempted murders, and engaging in a terrorist act,[12][13] and in August was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole – the first such sentence in New Zealand.[9][14][15]

The attacks were mainly motivated by white nationalismanti-immigrant sentiment, and white supremacist beliefs. Tarrant, who described himself as an ecofascist and voiced support for the far-right "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory in the context of a "white genocide", cited Anders Behring Breivik and Dylann Roof as well as several other right-wing terrorists as inspirations within his manifesto, praising Breivik above all.[16]

The attack was linked to an increase in white supremacy and alt-right extremism globally[17][18][19] observed since about 2015.[20][21] Politicians and world leaders condemned it,[22] and then-Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern described it as "one of New Zealand's darkest days".[23] The government established a royal commission into its security agencies in the wake of the shootings, which were the deadliest in modern New Zealand history and the worst ever committed by an Australian national.[24][25][26] The commission submitted its report to the government on 26 November 2020,[27] the details of which were made public on 7 December.[28]

The shooting has inspired copycat attacks,[b] especially due to its live-streamed nature. In response to this incident, the United Nations designated March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

Background

Locations

The gunman first attacked the Al Noor Mosque, the first mosque in the South Island, opened in June 1985.[32][33] It is located on Deans Avenue in the suburb of Riccarton.

The Linwood Islamic Centre was attacked shortly after the Al Noor Mosque. It opened in early 2018.[34] It is located on Linwood Avenue in the suburb of Linwood.

Perpetrator

Brenton Harrison Tarrant (born 27 October 1990),[35][36] a white Australian man, was 28 years old at the time of the shootings.[37][38] He grew up in Grafton, New South Wales, where he attended Grafton High School.[37][39]

Tarrant's parents separated when he was young: this, along with other events including the loss of his family home in a fire and the death of his grandfather, led him to be traumatised and to start suffering from social anxiety. Following the separation of his parents, Tarrant and his sister Lauren, lived with their mother with her new partner. The relationship became violent, with the partner assaulting his mother, him and his sister. The two children began to live with their father Rodney Tarrant. He began to gain weight from age 12 to 15 which led to bullying at school, where he also had very few friends. He was disengaged at school, while also being unusually knowledgeable in certain topics such as the Second World War. Tarrant began exhibiting signs of racism from a young age, expressing concerns about immigration as early as 12 years old. He frequently made derogatory comments concerning his mother's former partner's Aboriginal heritage, which resulted in intervention by one of his high school teachers. This teacher, also serving as the Anti-Racism Contact Officer, intervened on two occasions, addressing instances of both anti-Aboriginal and anti-Semitic behavior.[40] He started using 4chan when he was 14. He once told his sister that he thought he was autistic and possibly sociopathic. Around 2007 when Tarrant was either 16 or 17, the father was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Tarrant began to exercise at gyms to cope and lost 52 kilograms. He joined the Big River Gym in Grafton at the end of his final year at Grafton High School and qualified as a personal trainer in mid-2009. In 2010 Tarrant discovered his father dead by suicide after having previously agreed with his father that he would do so. He inherited A$457,000 from his father, which largely came from the settlement of a claim for damages arising out of the exposure to asbestos, which had caused his father's mesothelioma. He stopped working at the Big River Gym in 2012 after suffering an injury and decided to use his inherited money to invest and travel.[41][42]

Map showcasing Tarrant's international travel

From 2012 onward, he visited several countries. He always travelled alone, except for a trip to North Korea. In March 2013, he travelled to New Zealand for a holiday, where he stayed with a gaming friend for three days. The gaming friend and his parents were avid firearm users. They took Tarrant to a shooting club where he had his first experience with firearms.[43] Police in Bulgaria and Turkey investigated Tarrant's visits to their countries.[28][44][45][46] Security officials suspected that he had come into contact with far-right organisations about two years before the shooting, while visiting European nations.[47] He donated €1,500 to Identitäre Bewegung Österreich (IBÖ), the Austrian branch of Generation Identity (part of the Identitarian movement) in Europe, as well as €2,200 to Génération Identitaire, the French branch of the group, and interacted with IBÖ leader Martin Sellner via email between January 2018 and July 2018, offering to meet in Vienna and a linking to his YouTube channel.[48] During the planning stages of his attack he made a donation of $106.68 to Rebel Media, a site that featured both Sellner and several articles espousing "white genocide" and "Great Replacement" conspiracy theories.[49]

Tarrant arrived in New Zealand in August 2017 and lived in Andersons Bay in Dunedin until the shootings.[50][28][51] A neighbour described him as a friendly loner.[52] He was a member of a South Otago gun club, where he practised shooting at its range.[53][54] In 2018, Tarrant was treated for eye and thigh injuries at Dunedin Hospital; he told doctors he had sustained the injuries while trying to dislodge an improperly chambered bullet from a gun. The doctors also treated him for steroid abuse, but never reported Tarrant's visit to the authorities,[28] which would have resulted in police reassessing his fitness to hold a gun licence.[55]

Throughout his residence in Dunedin, Tarrant was unemployed, funding his living expenses and preparations for the terrorist attack using the money he received from his father and income from investments, including a rental property he and his sister had purchased in January 2017. When asked, he gave no concrete indication of his future plans once his funds were depleted, beyond mentioning to his sister the possibility of suicide and later telling family members and gaming friends that he intended to move to Ukraine.[56] Tarrant believed he would exhaust his funds by approximately August 2019. A document, dated late January 2019, was discovered in which he wrote, "15th March is go do rain or shine [sic]".[57]

Captivated with sites of battles between Christian European nations and the Ottoman Empire, Tarrant went on another series of visits to the Balkans from 2016 to 2018, with Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Turkey, and Bosnia-Herzegovina confirming his presence there in these years.[58][59] He posted Balkan nationalist material on social media platforms[60] and called for the United States to be weakened to prevent what he perceived as NATO intervention in support of Muslims (Albanians) against Christians (Serbs).[61][59][62] He said he was against intervention by NATO because he saw the Serbian military as "Christian Europeans attempting to remove these Islamic occupiers from Europe".[61][62] By June 2016, relatives noted a change in Tarrant's personality, which he claimed was the result of a mugging incident in Ethiopia, and his mother had expressed concern for his mental health.[28]

Tarrant himself identified three key moments that shaped his ideology. The first was the murder of an 11-year-old girl, Ebba Åkerlund, in the 2017 Stockholm truck attack on 7 April 2017. (Her name was among the graffiti scrawled on the gun he used to commit the shooting). He also identified the defeat of Marine Le Pen in the 2017 French presidential election as evidence that the possibility of democratic resolution had "vanished". The third key event was his trip to France where he had a strong emotional response to his perception that the French had become a "minority" in their own country, which he described as "fuming rage" and "suffocating despair". He was moved by visiting a military cemetery: "my despair turned to shame, my shame to guilt, my guilt to anger and my anger to rage".[63]

In 2016, three years prior to the attacks, Tarrant praised Blair Cottrell as a leader of the far-right movements in Australia and made more than 30 comments on the now-deleted "United Patriots Front" and "True Blue Crew" webpages. An Australian Broadcasting Corporation team who studied the comments called them "fragments and digital impressions of a well-travelled young man who frequented hate-filled anonymous messaging boards and was deeply engaged in a global alt-right culture."[64] A Melbourne man said that in 2016, he filed a police complaint after Tarrant allegedly told him in an online conversation, "I hope one day you meet the rope". He said that the police told him to block Tarrant and did not take a statement from him. The police said that they were unable to locate a complaint.[65]

After his arrest, Tarrant told investigators that he frequented right-wing discussion boards on 4chan and 8chan and also found YouTube to be "a significant source of information and inspiration."[28]

Preparation

Tarrant's travels on 8–9 January 2019

Tarrant is thought to have become obsessed with terrorist attacks committed by Islamic extremists in 2016 and 2017, started planning an attack about two years prior to the shootings, and chosen his targets three months in advance.[66] Some survivors at the Al Noor Mosque believed they had seen Tarrant there on several Fridays before the attack, pretending to pray and asking about the mosque's schedules.[67] The Royal Commission report found no evidence of this,[68] and police instead believe that Tarrant had viewed an online tour of Al-Noor as part of his planning.[69]

On 8 January 2019, Tarrant used a drone operated from a nearby park to investigate the mosque's grounds.[70] Additionally, he used the Internet to find detailed mosque plans, interior pictures, and prayer schedules to figure out when mosques would be at their busiest levels.[71] On the same day, he had driven past the Linwood Islamic Centre.[70]

Weaponry

The WW-15 used by Tarrant at the Mosque Al Noor, modified with a number of third party accessories and marked up with text referencing extreme right-wing ideologies and previous terrorist attacks

Police recovered six guns: two AR-15 style rifles (one manufactured by Windham Weaponry and the other by Ruger), two 12-gauge shotguns (a semiautomatic Mossberg 930 and a pump-action Ranger 870), and two other rifles (a .357 Magnum Uberti lever-action rifle, and a .223-caliber Mossberg Predator bolt-action rifle). Tarrant was granted a firearms licence with an "A" endorsement in November 2017,[72][73] and purchased weapons between December 2017 and March 2019, along with more than 7,000 rounds of ammunition.[71] According to a city gun store, Tarrant bought four firearms and ammunition online.[74] The shop did not detect anything unusual or extraordinary about the customer.[75] He used four 30-round magazines, five 40-round magazines, and one 60-round magazine in the shootings.[76] Additionally, he illegally replaced the semi-automatic rifles' small magazines with the higher capacity magazines purchased online, against the conditions of Tarrant's gun license.[77][78][79] He also modified the triggers of some of the firearms to allow for lighter trigger pressure and faster trigger resets.[71][80] He spent an estimated NZ$30,000 on firearm-related items.[81]

Magazines used in the shootings

The guns and magazines used were covered in white writing naming historical events, people, and motifs related to historical conflicts, wars, and battles between Muslims and European Christians;[61][62][82][83] as well as the names of recent Islamic terrorist attack victims and the names of far-right attackers such as Alexandre Bissonnette, Luca Traini and Darren Osbourne.[84][85] The markings also included references to "Turkofagos" (Greek: Τουρκοφάγος, lit.'Turk-eater';[86] this was the nickname of the revolutionary Nikitas Stamatelopoulos during his battles in the Greek War of Independence[87]), and white supremacist slogans such as the anti-Muslim phrase "Remove Kebab" that originated from Serbia and the Fourteen Words.[61][82][83] The Archangel Michael's Cross of the Romanian fascist organisation Iron Guard was among the symbols on the firearm.[88] Apart from the Latin alphabet, writings on the weaponry were in the Cyrillic, Armenian and Georgian alphabets.[82] The writings were names dedicated to historic individuals that fought against Muslim forces. On his armoured vest was a Black Sun patch, a symbol commonly used by the Azov Regiment,[89] and two dog tags: one with a Celtic cross, and one with a Slavic swastika design; all of these symbols are popular in far-right counter-culture.[90]

Armoured vest and magazines, as well as the speaker used to play music during the shootings.

His armoured vest had at least seven loaded .223 magazines in the front pockets.[91] He also wore an airsoft helmet, which held the head-mounted GoPro he used for his live stream.[71][92]

According to Stuff, Tarrant was wrongly granted a firearms licence due to police failures. Sources said that police failed to interview a family member as required for obtaining a firearms licence, instead interviewing two men that Tarrant had met through an online chatroom. In the days after the attacks, the police had quashed concerns that Tarrant had obtained the weapons inappropriately.[93]

Police also found four incendiary devices in Tarrant's car; they were defused by the New Zealand Defence Force.[94][95] He said, on the livestream, that he had planned to set the mosque on fire.[96]

Manifesto

Tarrant claims to be the author of a 74-page manifesto titled The Great Replacement, a reference to the "Great Replacement" and "white genocide" conspiracy theories.[8][97] It said that the attacks were planned two years prior, and the location was selected three months prior.[98] Minutes before the attacks began, the manifesto was emailed to more than 30 recipients, including the prime minister's office and several media outlets,[99] and links were shared on Twitter and 8chan.[100][101] Seven minutes after Tarrant sent the email containing the manifesto to parliament, it was forwarded to the parliament security team, who instantly called the police communication centre at 1:40 p.m., around the same time the first 111 calls were made from the Al Noor Mosque.[102]

In the manifesto, several anti-immigrant sentiments are expressed, including hate speech against migrants, white supremacist rhetoric, and calls for all non-European immigrants in Europe whom he claimed to be "invading his land" to be removed.[103] The manifesto displays neo-Nazi symbols such as the Black Sun and the Odin's cross. The author denies being a Nazi,[104] describing himself instead as an "ethno-nationalist",[62][105][106] an "eco-fascist",[107] and a "kebab removalist", in reference to a meme exalting the genocide of Bosnian Muslims that occurred during the Bosnian War.[108]

The author praises Donald Trump as a "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose"[109] and cites Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, Dylann Roof and others as an inspiration.[110][111][112] The author said that he agrees with British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley and that the People's Republic of China was the nation closest to his ideology.[113][114] He has also been said to have drawn from the counter-jihad movement.[115][116][117]

Despite claiming to launch this attack in the name of diversity, he called for the expulsion of people he deemed to be "invaders" from Europe including but not limited to Roma, Africans, Indians, Turks and Semitic peoples. The author says he originally targeted the Al Huda Mosque in Dunedin but changed his mind after visiting Christchurch, because the mosques there contained "more adults and a prior history of extremism".[118][119] In 2014 and 2015, the local press had reported an allegation that a congregation member had been radicalised at the mosque.[120] Additionally, the shooter also called for the killing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The manifesto was described by some media outlets as "shitposting"—trolling designed to engender conflict between certain groups and people.[121] Readers of the manifesto described it as containing deliberately provocative and absurd statements, such as sarcastically claiming to have been turned into a killer by playing violent video games.[122] On 23 March 2019, the manifesto was deemed "objectionable" by the Chief Censor of New Zealand, making it unlawful to possess or distribute it in New Zealand.[123] Exemptions to the ban were available for journalists, researchers, and academics.[124] In August 2019, The New Zealand Herald reported that printed copies of the manifesto were being sold online outside New Zealand, something New Zealand law could not prevent.[125]

Genocide scholar A. Dirk Moses analysed the manifesto, concluding that "Tarrant's words yield insights into the subjectivity of genocidaires more generally, namely that they commit terrorist acts with genocidal intent as – in their own mind – preventative self-defence; not as acts of aggression but, as he writes, 'a partisan action against an occupying force'". According to Moses, it was hypocritical for Tarrant to complain about supposed "white genocide" from immigration without recognising that he himself comes from a settler colony that resulted from genocide against Indigenous Australians.[126]

In the manifesto, Tarrant said he hoped mass shootings would cause conflict over gun control in the United States, and potentially lead to civil war.[127][128]

An arm of the Ukrainian Azov movement subsequently disseminated the manifesto both online and in print.[89]

Events

Al Noor Mosque

At 1:32 p.m., Tarrant started his live-stream that would last for 17 minutes on Facebook Live, starting with the drive to the Al Noor mosque and ending as he drove away.[71][129] Just before the shooting, he played several songs, including "Serbia Strong", a Serb nationalist and anti-Muslim song; and "The British Grenadiers", a traditional British military marching song.[130][61][131]

At 1:39 p.m., Tarrant parked his vehicle in the driveway next to the Al Noor Mosque. He then armed himself with the Mossberg 930 and Windham Weaponry AR-15 rifle before walking towards the mosque.[71][102][70]

At 1:40 p.m., Tarrant approached the mosque, a worshipper greeted him with "Hello, brother". Tarrant fired his shotgun nine times towards the front entrance, killing four worshippers. He then dropped the shotgun and opened fire on people inside with the AR-15–style rifle, killing two other men down a hallway near the entrance and dozens more inside a prayer hall; a strobe light attached to one of his weapons disoriented victims.[71][132][133] Another worshipper charged at Tarrant and knocked him down, dislodging a magazine from his vest in the process, but he was then shot several times and fatally wounded.[132][134][135] This worshipper, Naeem Rashid, was posthumously awarded the Nishan-e-Shujaat and the New Zealand Cross, the highest awards of bravery in Pakistan and New Zealand, respectively.[136][137]

Tarrant fired at worshippers in the prayer hall from close range. He then went outside, where he killed a man, discarded his Windham WW-15 and retrieved a Ruger AR-556 AR-15 from his car. He went to the mosque's southern gate and killed two people in the car park sheltering behind vehicles and wounded another. He reentered the mosque and shot already-wounded people, then again went outside, where he killed a woman.[138][102][71][132] Thereupon Tarrant drove over the deceased woman, leaving six minutes after he arrived at the mosque.[132][70] He shot at fleeing worshipers and cars through the windscreen and closed window of his own car as he was driving towards the Linwood Islamic Centre.[102][71][70]

At 1:46 p.m., police arrived near the mosque just as Tarrant was leaving, but his car was hidden by a bus, and at the time, no description of the vehicle had been provided, or that he had left.[102][139] He drove eastwards on Bealey Avenue at up to 130 km/h (81 mph), weaving between lanes against oncoming traffic and driving onto a grass median strip.[102] At 1:51 p.m., just after the livestream had ended due to a connection interruption, he aimed a shotgun at the driver of a vehicle on Avonside Drive and attempted to fire it twice, but it failed to fire on both occasions. The GoPro device attached to Tarrant's helmet continued recording until he was apprehended by police eight minutes later.[70][102]

Linwood Islamic Centre

Linwood Islamic Centre, March 2020. At the time of the shootings, there was a building at the front of the section and access was along an ungated driveway to the left.

At 1:52 p.m., Tarrant arrived at the Linwood Islamic Centre,[70] 5 kilometres (3 mi) east of the Al Noor Mosque,[140] where about 100 people were inside.[71][70] He parked his vehicle on the mosque's driveway, preventing other cars from entering or leaving.[71] According to a witness, Tarrant was initially unable to find the mosque's main door, instead shooting people outside and through a window, killing four and alerting those inside.[71][70][141]

A worshipper named Abdul Aziz Wahabzada ran outside. As Tarrant was retrieving another gun from his car, Aziz threw a payment terminal at him. Tarrant fired back at Aziz, who picked up an empty shotgun that Tarrant had dropped. He took cover among nearby cars and attempted to draw Tarrant's attention by shouting, "I'm here!" Regardless, Tarrant entered the mosque, where he shot and killed three people. When Tarrant returned to his car, Aziz confronted him again. Tarrant removed a bayonet from his vest but then retreated into his car instead of attacking Aziz. Tarrant drove away at 1:55 p.m., with Aziz throwing the shotgun at his car.[132][142] Aziz was awarded the New Zealand Cross, New Zealand's highest award for bravery.[136] In May 2023, he represented recipients of the Cross at the coronation of Charles III and Camilla.[143] After a long period of being left vacant, the building was demolished in November 2023.[144][145]

Tarrant's arrest

A silver 2005 Subaru Outback[146] matching the description of Tarrant's vehicle was seen by a police unit, and a pursuit was initiated at 1:57 p.m. Two police officers rammed his car off the road with their vehicle, and Tarrant was arrested without resistance on Brougham Street in Sydenham at 1:59 p.m., 18 minutes after the first emergency call.[132][70][147]

Police response timeline[102]
Time Event
1:40 p.m. Tarrant enters the Al Noor Mosque.
1:41 p.m. First 111 call to Police is received.
1:42 p.m. Police report over the radio of shots fired at Al Noor Mosque.
1:46:00 p.m. Tarrant leaves Al Noor Mosque for Linwood Islamic centre.
1:46:58 p.m. Police arrive at the intersection of Deans Avenue and Riccarton Road.
1:51 p.m. Police arrive outside Al Noor Mosque.
1:52 p.m. Tarrant arrives at Linwood Islamic centre.
1:54:48 p.m. Police enter Al Noor Mosque.
1:55 p.m. Tarrant leaves Linwood Islamic centre.
1:56:25 p.m. Police car flagged down by a member of the public reporting shots fired
at Linwood Islamic centre.
1:57 p.m. First 111 call to Police from the Linwood Islamic centre.
1:57:49 p.m. Police pursuit is initiated with Tarrant.
1:59 p.m. Pursuit ends with Tarrant being apprehended.
1:59:25 p.m. Police arrive at Linwood Islamic centre.

Tarrant later admitted that when he was arrested, he was on his way to attack a mosque in Ashburton, 90 km (56 mi) southwest of Christchurch.[70] He also told the police that there were "nine more shooters", and that there were "like-minded" people in Dunedin, Invercargill, and Ashburton, but when interviewed later, he confirmed that he had acted alone.[148]

Legal proceedings

Arraignment

Tarrant appeared in the Christchurch District Court on 16 March, where he was charged with one count of murder.[149] The judge ordered the courtroom closed to the public except for accredited media and allowed the accused to be filmed and photographed on the condition that Tarrant's face be pixellated.[150] In court, Tarrant smiled at reporters and made an inverted OK gesture below his waist, said to be a "white power" sign.[151]

The case was transferred to the High Court, and Tarrant was remanded in custody as his lawyer did not seek bail.[152] He was subsequently transferred to the country's only maximum-security unit at Auckland Prison.[153] He lodged a formal complaint regarding his prison conditions, on the grounds that he has no access to newspapers, television, Internet, visitors, or phone calls.[154][needs update] On 4 April, police announced they had increased the total number of charges to 89, 50 for murder and 39 for attempted murder, with other charges still under consideration.[155] At the next hearing on 5 April, Tarrant was ordered by the judge to undergo a psychiatric assessment of his mental fitness to stand trial.[156]

On 20 May, a new charge of engaging in a terrorist act was laid against Tarrant under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002. One murder charge and one attempted murder charge were also added, bringing the total to 51 and 40, respectively.[157]

Initial plea and pre-trial detention

On 14 June 2019, Tarrant appeared at the Christchurch High Court via audio-visual link from Auckland Prison. Through his lawyer, he pleaded not guilty to one count of engaging in a terrorist act, 51 counts of murder, and 40 counts of attempted murder. Mental health assessments had indicated no issues regarding his fitness to plead or stand trial. The trial was originally set to begin on 4 May 2020,[13] but it was later pushed back to 2 June 2020 to avoid coinciding with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.[158]

During his time in prison, Tarrant was able to send seven letters, one of which was subsequently posted on the Internet message boards 4chan and 8chan by a recipient. Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis and the Department of Corrections were criticised for allowing the distribution of these letters.[159] Prime Minister Ardern subsequently announced that the Government would explore amending the Corrections Act 2004 to further restrict what mail can be received and sent by prisoners.[160][161]

Guilty plea and sentencing arrangements

On 26 March 2020, Tarrant appeared at the Christchurch High Court via audio-visual link from Auckland Prison. During the appearance, he pleaded guilty to all 92 charges. Due to the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, the general public was barred from the hearing. Reporters and representatives for the Al-Noor and Linwood mosques were present in the courtroom.[162] According to media reports, Tarrant's lawyers had informed the courts that their client was considering changing his plea. On 25 March, Tarrant issued his lawyers with formal written instructions confirming that he wanted to change his pleas to guilty. In response, court authorities began making arrangements for the case to be called as soon as possible in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown.[163][164] The judge convicted Tarrant on all charges and remanded him in custody to await sentencing.[citation needed]

On 10 July, the government announced that overseas-based victims of the shootings would receive border exemptions and financial help to fly to New Zealand for the sentencing.[165] On 13 July, it was reported that Tarrant had dismissed his lawyers and would be representing himself during sentencing proceedings.[166][167]

Sentencing

Main article: The Queen v Brenton Harrison Tarrant

Armed police outside Christchurch courthouse during Tarrant's sentencing

Sentencing began on 24 August 2020 before Justice Cameron Mander at the Christchurch High Court,[168] and it was televised.[169] Tarrant did not oppose the sentence proposed and declined to address the court.[170][171] The Crown prosecutors demonstrated to the court how Tarrant had meticulously planned the two shootings and more attacks,[172][173] while numerous survivors and their relatives gave victim impact statements, which were covered by national and international media.[174] Tarrant was then sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for each of the 51 murders,[14] and life imprisonment for engaging in a terrorist act and 40 attempted murders.[9] The sentence is New Zealand's first terrorism conviction.[175][176] It was also the first time that life imprisonment without parole, the maximum sentence available in New Zealand, had been imposed.[note 1] Mander said Tarrant's crimes were "so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation."[9][15]

Following the sentencing, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called for Tarrant to serve his sentence in Australia to avoid New Zealand having to pay the costs for his life imprisonment. The cost of housing Tarrant in prison was estimated at NZ$4,930 per day,[178] compared to an average cost of $338 per sentenced prisoner per day.[179] Peters's remarks were also motivated by Australia's policy of deporting New Zealand citizens who had committed crimes or breached character requirements.[180] Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was no legal basis for the proposal and that respecting the wishes of his victims and their relatives was paramount. Justice Minister Andrew Little said Parliament would need to pass a law to deport Tarrant to Australia. University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis said it was "legally impossible" to deport Tarrant to Australia to serve his sentence. On 28 August, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton advised that, while no formal request had been made by the New Zealand Government to repatriate Tarrant to Australia and for him to serve his life sentence in an Australian correctional facility, the Australian Government was open to considering a request.[181]

Imprisonment

On 14 April 2021, Tarrant appealed against his prison conditions and his designation as a "terrorist entity" at the Auckland High Court. According to media reports, he is being imprisoned at a special "prison within a prison" known as a "Prisoners of Extreme Risk Unit" with two other inmates. Eighteen guards have been rostered to guard Tarrant, who is being housed in his own wing.[182][183] On 24 April, Tarrant abandoned his appeal.[184]

In early November 2021, Tarrant's new lawyer Tony Ellis stated that his client intended to appeal against his sentence and conviction, claiming that his guilty plea had been obtained under duress and that his conditions while on remand breached the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Mosque attack survivors have criticised Tarrant's appeal as a form of "grandstanding" and an attempt by the terrorist to "re-traumatise" the Muslim community.[185][186]

In early November 2022, Tarrant appealed against his sentence and conviction at the Court of Appeal in Wellington. A Court of Appeal spokeswoman confirmed Tarrant's appeal and that no hearing date had been set.[187][188] Mosque shooting survivors including Imam Gamal Fouda, Temel Atacocugu, and Rahimi Ahmad described Tarrant's appeal as "re-traumatising," insensitive and attention-seeking.[187]

In early February 2024, Tarrant abandoned his judicial review against his prison conditions at the Auckland High Court. His lawyer Todd Simmonds asked Judge Venning to exclude journalists and members of the media from the proceedings, claiming that any publicity on the matter would cause "undue humiliation and embarrassment". Crown lawyer Austin Powell disagreed, arguing that the hearing was a matter of public interest. Judge Venning agreed with Powell and declined Simmonds' submission. After consulting with Tarrant, Simmonds informed the Court that Tarrant had abandoned his judicial review against his prison conditions.[189]

Victims

Deaths by citizenship[190]
Citizenship Deaths
 New Zealand 27[c]
 Pakistan 8
 India 5
 Bangladesh 3
 Fiji 2
 Indonesia 1
 Jordan 1
 Malaysia 1
 Mauritius 1
 Palestine 1
 Turkey 1[191]
Total 51

Fifty-one people died from the attacks, either at the scene or shortly afterwards: 44 at the Al Noor Mosque and seven at the Linwood Islamic Centre. All but four were male.[190] Their ages ranged from three to 77 years old.[192] Thirty-five others were injured at the Al Noor Mosque and five at Linwood.[71]

Aftermath

Governmental response

Police advised mosques to close temporarily, and sent officers to secure and patrol various sites in Christchurch.[193] All Air New Zealand Link services departing from Christchurch Airport were cancelled as a precaution, due to the absence of security screening at the regional terminal.[194][195] Security was increased at Parliament, and public tours of the buildings were cancelled.[196] In Dunedin, the Police Armed Offenders Squad searched a house, later reported to have been rented by Tarrant,[197][198] and cordoned off part of the surrounding street in Andersons Bay because Tarrant had indicated on social media that he had originally planned to target the Al Huda Mosque in that city.[199][200]

A photo of a woman from the waist up, hands clasped in front of her, with a sad facial expression. She is wearing a black dress and scarf with gold trim.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited members of the Muslim community at the Phillipstown Community Hub in Christchurch the day after the attack.

For the first time in New Zealand history, the terrorism threat level was raised to high.[201] Prime Minister Ardern called the incident an "act of extreme and unprecedented violence" on "one of New Zealand's darkest days".[202] She described it as a "well-planned" terrorist attack[203] and said she would render the person accused of the attacks "nameless" while urging the public to speak the victims' names instead.[204] Ardern directed that flags on public buildings be flown at half-mast.[205]

In May 2019, the NZ Transport Agency offered to replace any vehicle number plates with the prefix "GUN" on request.[206]

In mid-October 2019, Ardern awarded bravery awards to the two police officers who apprehended Tarrant at the annual Police Association Conference in Wellington. Due to the legal proceedings against Tarrant at the time, the two officers had interim name suppression, but in December 2019, this was lifted.[207]

On 1 September 2020, Prime Minister Ardern designated Tarrant as a terrorist entity, thereby freezing his assets and making it a criminal offence for anyone to support him financially.[208]

Media response

For the three months following the shooting, almost 1,000 reports were published in major news outlets in New Zealand. Less than 10% of news reports published by major media outlets mentioned Tarrant's name. Susanna Every-Palmer, an academic psychiatrist, suggested that the media made a moral choice to deny Tarrant exposure and not sensationalise his views, deviating from how similar events internationally were covered in the media. The court required the media to pixelate Tarrant's face when covering the legal proceedings, thus, within New Zealand, he remained largely faceless and nameless. Instead, media coverage focused largely on the victims and their families.[209][210]

In contrast, the media response in Australia was different, focusing on the extreme violence of the attack, as well as the attacker and his manifesto. For example, The Australian published an audio excerpt containing cries for help, and The Herald Sun wrote dramatic descriptions of victims being shot and used poetic devices to create more vivid imagery. Coverage of the victims was largely focused on physical horrors such as bloodshed, injuries, and graves being dug.[210]

Other responses in New Zealand

A woman adds a flower arrangement to a large memorial display set against a fence.
Patsy Reddy laying flowers at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens on 19 March

Within an hour of the attack, all schools in the city were placed in "lockdown".[211][212] A ministry report launched after the attacks said schools' handling of the events were varied: some schoolchildren in lockdown still had their mobile phones, and some were able to view the footage of the first attack online, while some schools had children "commando crawl" to the bathroom under teacher supervision.[213][214] Student climate strikers at the global School strike for the climate rally in Cathedral Square, near the sites of the attacks, were advised by police either to seek refuge in public buildings or go home.[215][216] The citywide lockdown lasted nearly three hours.[213]

In response to security concerns, the University of Otago postponed its sesquicentennial street parade which had been scheduled for 16 March.[199][200]

The third test cricket match between New Zealand and Bangladesh, scheduled to commence at Hagley Oval in Hagley Park on 16 March, was likewise cancelled due to security concerns.[217] The Bangladesh team were planning to attend Friday prayer at the Al Noor Mosque and were moments from entering the building when the incident began.[218][219] The players then fled on foot to Hagley Oval.[220] Two days later, Canterbury withdrew from their match against Wellington in the Plunket Shield cricket tournament.[221] Likewise, the Super Rugby match between the Crusaders, based in Christchurch, and Highlanders, based in Dunedin, due to be played the next day, was cancelled as "a mark of respect for the events".[222] After the attacks, there were renewed calls to rename the Crusaders team, since its name derives from the medieval Crusades against Muslims.[223][224]

Vigil in Wellington for the victims of the attack

Canadian rock singer-songwriter Bryan Adams and American thrash metal band Slayer both cancelled their concerts that were scheduled to be held in Christchurch on 17 March, two days after the shootings.[225] The Polynesian cultural festival Polyfest was cancelled after the shootings, with security concerns cited as the reason.[226] The music and cultural festival WOMAD went ahead in New Plymouth despite the attacks, with armed police stationed around the festival perimeter, inside the event, and outside artists' hotels.[227]

Mosques around the World became the focus of vigils, messages, and floral tributes.[228] The mayor of Christchurch, Lianne Dalziel, encouraged people to lay flowers outside the city's Botanic Gardens.[229] As a mark of sympathy and solidarity, school pupils and other groups performed haka and waiata to honour those killed in the attacks.[230][231] Street gangs including the Mongrel Mob, Black Power, and the King Cobras sent members to mosques around the country to help protect them during prayer time.[232]

One week after the attacks, an open-air Friday prayer service was held in Hagley Park. Broadcast nationally on radio and television, it was attended by 20,000 people, including Ardern,[233] who said, "New Zealand mourns with you. We are one." The imam of the Al Noor Mosque thanked New Zealanders for their support and added, "We are broken-hearted but we are not broken."[234] A national remembrance service was held on 29 March, a fortnight after the attacks.[235]

Operation Whakahaumanu

Shortly after the attack, New Zealand Police launched Operation Whakahaumanu. The operation was designed to reassure New Zealanders after the attack and to also investigate possible threats who shared a similar ideology to the gunman. Police increased visibility in streets and visited many schools, businesses, and religious places as part of the operation. In Canterbury alone, there were almost 600 people of interest to police, where hundreds of properties were searched. On 14 July 2020, the Independent Police Conduct Authority deemed three of these searches to be unlawful.[236]

Fundraisers and philanthropy

Vigil in Melbourne, Australia

An online fundraiser on the fundraising website "Givealittle" started to support victims and their families had, as of August 2020, raised over NZ$10,903,966.[237][238] Counting other fundraisers, a combined total of $8.4 million had been raised for the victims and their families (as of 20 March 2019).[239] Prime Minister Ardern reiterated that those injured or killed in the shootings and their immediate families are covered by the country's accident-compensation scheme, ACC, which offers compensation for lost income and a $10,000 funeral grant, among other benefits.[240][241]

In late June, it was reported that the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh had raised more than NZ$967,500 (US$650,000) through its New Zealand Islamophobia Attack Fund for the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings. This amount included $60,000 raised by Tree of Life – Or L'Simcha Congregation. These funds will be donated to the Christchurch Foundation, a registered charity which has been receiving money to support victims of the Christchurch shootings. This philanthropy was inspired by local Muslim support for the Pittsburgh Jewish community following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in late October 2018.[242]

Related arrests and incidents

New Zealand

Police arrested four people on 15 March in relation to the attacks,[201][211][243] including a woman and a man, after finding a firearm in a vehicle in which they were travelling together.[244][clarification needed] The woman was released uncharged, but the man was held in custody and was charged with a firearms offence.[245] Additionally, a 30-year-old man said he was arrested when he arrived at Papanui High School to pick up his 13-year-old brother-in-law. He was in camouflage clothing, which he said he habitually wore.[246][247] He claimed to be seeking compensation for a wrongful arrest, but no formal complaint was filed. The actions were defended by police, who mentioned the threat level after the massacre and that they had to deal with reports possibly related to the attacks.[246] He was later jailed for an unrelated incident.[248][249]

On 4 March 2020, a 19-year-old Christchurch man was arrested for allegedly making a terror threat against the Al Noor Mosque on an encrypted social media platform Telegram.[250] Media reports subsequently identified the man as Sam Brittenden, a member of the white supremacist group Action Zealandia.[251][252]

On 4 March 2021, a 27-year-old man was charged with "threatening to kill" after making an online threat against both the Linwood Islamic Centre and the Al Noor Mosque on 4chan.[253] The suspect was granted name suppression and remanded into custody until 19 March.[254]

Outside New Zealand

On 18 March 2019, the Australian Federal Police conducted raids on the homes of Tarrant's sister and mother near Coffs Harbour and Maclean in New South Wales. Police said the raids were carried out to assist New Zealand Police with their investigations into the shootings, adding that Tarrant's sister and mother were assisting the investigation.[255][256]

On 19 March 2019, an Australian man who had posted on social media praising the shootings was indicted on one count of aggravated possession of a firearm without a licence and four counts of using or possessing a prohibited weapon. He was released on bail on the condition that he stay offline.[257] The man pleaded guilty in Magistrates Court to four counts of possessing a prohibited weapon.[258]

A 24-year-old man from Oldham, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom, was arrested on 16 March for sending Facebook posts in support of the shootings.[259][260][needs update]

On 20 March, an employee of Transguard, a company based in the United Arab Emirates, was fired by his company and deported for making comments supporting the shootings.[261]

Thomas Bolin, a 22-year-old living in New York, sent Facebook messages praising the shootings and discussing a desire to carry out a similar act in the United States with his cousin. Bolin was later convicted of lying to the FBI for claiming he did not possess any firearms.[262]

Inspired incidents

Nine days after the attack, a mosque in Escondido, California, was set on fire. Police found graffiti on the mosque's driveway that referenced the shootings, leading them to investigate the fire as a terrorist attack.[263][264]

According to Sri Lankan State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, an early inquiry indicated that the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings on 21 April were retaliation for the Christchurch attack.[265] Some analysts believe the attacks were planned before the Christchurch attack,[266][267] and any linkage was questioned by New Zealand's government—with Prime Minister Ardern saying she was not aware of any intelligence linking the two.[268]

A mass shooting later took place at a synagogue in Poway, California on 27 April 2019, killing a person and injuring three others. The neo-Nazi perpetrator of the shooting, John T. Earnest, also claimed responsibility for the fire and praised the Christchurch shootings in a manifesto. He and Tarrant were said to have been radicalised on 8chan's /pol/ discussion board. He also unsuccessfully attempted to live stream his shooting on Facebook.[269][270]

On 3 August 2019, Patrick Crusius opened fire and killed 23 people and injured 22 others in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, targeting Mexicans. In a manifesto posted to 8chan's /pol/ board, the suspect expressed support for and inspiration from the Christchurch shootings. Additionally, the alleged shooter described himself as an "eco-fascist".[271][272][273]

On 10 August 2019, Philip Manshaus opened fire at a mosque in Bærum, Norway, and livestreamed it on Facebook. He referred to Tarrant as a saint online and posted an image depicting Tarrant, Crusius, and Earnest as "heroes".[274] The attack resulted in one injury. Manshaus was sentenced to 21 years for the attack and for killing his teenage stepsister, who was found dead shortly after the attack.[275]

On 27 January 2021, the Singaporean Internal Security Department reported it had arrested a 16-year-old Protestant Indian youth under the Internal Security Act for plotting to attack the Assyafaah and Yusof Ishak Mosques on the anniversary of the shootings. The youth had produced a manifesto that described Tarrant as a "saint" and praised the shootings as the "justifiable killing of Muslims". Unable to obtain firearms and explosives due to Singapore's strict gun control laws, the youth had instead purchased a machete and vest.[276][277]

On 14 May 2022, white supremacist shooter Payton Gendron killed ten people and injured three others at a Tops Friendly Markets grocery store in Buffalo, New York, targeting African Americans. Eleven of the 13 victims shot were Black and two others were White. He livestreamed the attack on Twitch and published a manifesto stating that he was inspired by Tarrant and others including Crusius and Earnest respectively. In response, Acting Chief Censor Rupert Ablett-Hampson placed an interim ban on the circulation of Gendron's manifesto within New Zealand. In addition, the Department of Internal Affairs considered referring Gendron's livestream of the shooting to the Office of Film and Literature Classification.[278]

In Finland on 15 March 2024, the anniversary of Christchurch mosque shooting, a Finnish army Non-commissioned officer was arrested for allegedly planning a mass shooting in a university in Vaasa that day. As her motivation she said the world needed "a mass culling" to put an end to "selfish individualism", "human degeneration", global warming and conspicuous consumption.[279] The Finnish police described her as ecofascist and that she had read books by Nietzsche, Linkola and Kaczynski. Additionally she had praised Pekka-Eric Auvinen in internet conversations and had visited Jokela school where he perpetrated the mass shooting.[280]

Reactions

World leaders

Queen Elizabeth II, New Zealand's head of state, said she was "deeply saddened" by the attacks.[281] Other politicians and world leaders also condemned the attacks,[22][note 2] with some attributing them to rising Islamophobia.[282][283]

The prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, announced that the Pakistani emigrant who charged at Tarrant and died, would be posthumously honoured with a national award for his courage.[284]

The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, showed footage taken by Tarrant to his supporters at campaign rallies for upcoming local elections.[285][286] The New Zealand and Australian governments,[287] as well as Turkey's main opposition party, criticised his actions.[288]

President Donald Trump condemned the "horrible massacre".[109] When asked after the attacks if he thought white nationalists were a growing threat around the world, Trump replied, "I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. It's certainly a terrible thing."[289]

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad expressed deep regret over the terrorist attack. He said he hoped the New Zealand government would bring the perpetrators to justice.[290]

Far-right

Two New Zealand-based anti-immigration groups, the Dominion Movement and the New Zealand National Front, condemned the attacks, distanced themselves from the perpetrator, and shut their websites down.[291] Some in the broader far-right culture celebrated the attacks and "sanctified" Tarrant as a central figure.[292] Tarrant's manifesto was translated and distributed in more than a dozen different languages[292] with a number of supporters on 8chan making photo and video edits of the shooting.[108][293] Some extremists were inspired by Tarrant, committing violent incidents and deadly attacks of their own, such as those in Poway, El Paso, and Bærum.[292] The United Kingdom's domestic intelligence service, MI5, launched an inquiry into Tarrant's possible links to the British far-right.[294]

Islamic groups

Ahmed Bhamji, chair of the largest mosque in New Zealand,[295] spoke at a rally on 23 March in front of one thousand people.[296][297] He claimed that Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence agency, was behind the attack. The claim has been widely described as an unfounded, antisemitic conspiracy theory. The chairman of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand said that Bhamji's statement did not represent other New Zealand Muslims, but Bhamji defended his statements.[295][296][298]

The attack was also condemned by the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Harun Khan, describing it as "the most deadly Islamophobic terrorist attack" observed recently.[299] The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Donald Trump, then U.S. president, to condemn the shootings. Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C. Nihad Award, executive director of CAIR said: "You should condemn this, not only as a hate crime but as a white supremacist terrorist attack."[300]

People and countries mentioned by Tarrant

Just before carrying out the attacks, Tarrant asked his audience to subscribe to YouTuber PewDiePie's channel in light of his then-ongoing rivalry with Indian channel T-Series.[301] PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, has been accused of using far-right content in his videos.[302][303] Kjellberg tweeted his condolences in reaction, saying he "felt absolutely sickened" to be mentioned by Tarrant.[304] Kjellberg later called for the "subscribe to PewDiePie" movement to be discontinued, citing the attacks; "to have my name associated with something so unspeakably vile has affected me in more ways than I've let show."[305]

During the attacks, Tarrant played the song "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.[306] In a Facebook post, singer Arthur Brown expressed "horror and sadness" at the use of his song during the attacks, and cancelled a planned instore appearance at Waterloo Records shortly after the shootings out of respect for the victims.[307]

In China, internet users expressed outrage and anger at the shooter praising their country's government.[308]

Livestream

The first shooting, starting from the drive to the Al Noor Mosque and ending on the way to the Linwood Islamic Centre was live-streamed on Facebook Live using Tarrant's head-mounted GoPro camera.[71][309][129] The link to the Facebook livestream was first posted on 8chan's /pol/ board, alongside links to the manifesto.[310][311][312]

The post included the following,[313]

Well lads, it's time to stop shitposting and time to make a real life effort post. I will carry out and [sic] attack against the invaders, and will even livestream the attack via Facebook.

Fewer than 200 people watched the 17-minute livestream live and none of them made a complaint to Facebook or notified the police.[313][309] The livestream's perspective mirrored that of a first-person shooter video game,[309] as well as being the first successfully live-streamed far-right terror attack.[314]

Video distribution

Copies of the live-streamed video were reposted on many platforms and file-sharing websites, including Facebook,[315] LiveLeak, and YouTube.[316] Police, Muslim advocacy groups, and government agencies urged anyone who found the footage to take it down or report it.[317] The New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification quickly classified the video as "objectionable", making it a criminal offence in the country to distribute, copy, or exhibit the video, with potential penalties of up to 14 years' imprisonment for an individual, or up to $100,000 in fines for a corporation.[318]

Stuart Bender of Curtin University in Perth noted that the use of live video as an integral part of the attacks "makes [them] a form of 'performance crime' where the act of video recording and/or streaming the violence by the perpetrator is a central component of the violence itself, rather than being incidental."[319]

Arrests and prosecutions

At least eight people in New Zealand have been arrested for possessing or sharing the video or manifesto; most of their names have been suppressed either to prevent threats against them or in support of freedom of expression online.[320] The first was an 18-year-old man who was arrested and charged with inciting racial disharmony under the Human Rights Act on the same day as the shooting.[321][322] Early news media reports identified him as an accomplice to the shooting,[323] but the police have denied this.[324]

On 20 March 2019, Philip Arps was indicted for sharing the video under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993, he subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges. In June 2019, he was sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment and was released in January 2020, under the condition of him wearing a GPS electronic monitor.[325] Arps had also expressed neo-Nazi views and sent letters advocating violence against New Zealand politicians.[326][327] On 26 February 2020, another Christchurch man was jailed for nearly two years for doctoring footage of the shootings upon Arps' request, two days after the attacks.[328]

Media outlets

Several media organisations in Australia and tabloid-news websites in the UK broadcast parts of the video, up to the point Tarrant entered the building, despite pleas from the New Zealand Police not to show it.[329][330] Sky Television New Zealand temporarily stopped its syndication of Sky News Australia after that network showed the footage, and said it was working with Sky News Australia to prevent further displays of the video.[331] At least three Internet service providers in New Zealand blocked access to 8chan and other sites related to the attacks;[332] and they temporarily blocked other sites hosting the video such as 4chan, LiveLeak, and Mega until they comply with requests to take down copies of the video.[333] The administrator of the online message board Kiwi Farms refused a New Zealand Police request for the data of users who made posts related to Tarrant and the attack.[334][335]

Social media companies

Social media sites including Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter said they were working to remove the video from their platforms, and would also remove content posted in support of the attacks.[336][337] According to Facebook, no complaints were made about the video until 12 minutes after the live-stream ended;[338] the original video from Tarrant himself had been viewed fewer than 200 times before Facebook was notified of its content, and it had been viewed only 4,000 times before it was removed, which happened within minutes of notification. Facebook created a digital hash fingerprint to detect further uploads after the video had been propagated on other sites.[339] The company said it had blocked 1.5 million uploads of the video.[339][340] Reddit banned "subreddits" named "WatchPeopleDie" and "Gore" for glorifying violence.[341] Microsoft proposed the establishment of industry-wide standards that would flag such content quickly, and a joint project to manage and control the spread of such information via social media.[342]

Despite the networks' attempts to self-police, New Zealand officials and other world leaders have asked them to take responsibility for extremist content posted on their services.[339] Australia introduced legislation that would fine content providers and potentially imprison their executives if they do not remove violent imagery of these types of attacks.[343] The French Council of the Muslim Faith filed a lawsuit against Facebook and YouTube, accusing the companies of "broadcasting a message with violent content abetting terrorism, or of a nature likely to seriously violate human dignity and liable to be seen by a minor". Facebook has contested the lawsuit, saying, "Acts of terror and hate speech have no place on Facebook, and our thoughts are with the families of the victims and the entire community affected by this tragedy. We have taken many steps to remove this video from our platform, we are cooperating with the authorities".[344]

On 15 May 2019, Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron co-hosted the Christchurch Call summit in Paris,[345][346] which called for major technology companies to step up their efforts to combat violent extremism.[347] The initiative had 53 state signatories and eight large tech companies.[209][348]

Legacy

Gun laws

For broader coverage of this topic, see Gun law in New Zealand.

Gun laws in New Zealand came under scrutiny in the aftermath, specifically the legality of military-style semi-automatic rifles.[349] In 2018, for example, it was reported that of the estimated 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand, 15,000 were registered military style semi-automatic weapons as well as perhaps 50,000 and 170,000 unregistered A-Category semi-automatics.[350] As Philip Alpers of GunPolicy.org noted, "New Zealand is almost alone with the United States in not registering 96 percent of its firearms ... one can assume that the ease of obtaining these firearms may have been a factor in his decision to commit the crime in Christchurch."[351][352] Cabinet remains undecided on the creation of a register.[353]

On the day of the attack, Ardern announced that gun laws would change.[351][354] Attorney-General David Parker was later quoted as saying that the government would ban semi-automatic guns[355] but subsequently backtracked, saying the government had not yet committed to anything and that regulations around semi-automatic weapons was "one of the issues" the government would consider.[356] On 21 March, Ardern announced a ban on semi-automatic weapons. As an interim measure, the government reclassified some semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, requiring police approval to buy them.[357]

The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Act 2019 was introduced in the House of Representatives on 1 April and passed its first reading the following day.[358] The final reading was passed on 10 April, supported by all parties in Parliament except ACT, and it became law by the end of the week.[359] All legally obtained semiautomatic and military-grade firearms and their relevant ammunition were able to be handed over to police in a buy-back scheme.[360] The scheme was initiated in July[361] and lasted six months.[362] Provisional data from police show that as of 21 December 2019 a total of 33,619 hand-ins had been completed, 56,250 firearms had been collected (51,342 as buy-back and 4,908 under amnesty), 2,717 firearms had been modified, and 194,245 parts had been collected (187,995 as buy-back and 6,250 under amnesty).[363][needs update]

Police Minister Stuart Nash hailed the buy-back scheme as a success. In contrast, Nicole McKee, the spokeswoman of the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, said that the buyback had been a failure and claimed that there are 170,000 prohibited guns in New Zealand, so "50,000 is not a number to boast about".[364]

Royal commission of inquiry

Cabinet agreed to hold an inquiry into the attacks, and announced on 25 March 2019 that it would take the form of a Royal Commission of Inquiry.[25] On 8 April 2019, Prime Minister Ardern announced that Supreme Court justice Sir William Young would chair the inquiry.[365]

On 26 November 2020, the Royal Commission formally presented its 792-page report to the government.[27] This report was made public on 8 December. Though it acknowledged there were no signs an attack in New Zealand was imminent at the time, it highlighted failures by the police system to properly vet gun purchases, as well as the country's intelligence services' strong focus on Islamic extremism at the expense of other potential threats such as white supremacy. The report also made 44 recommendations, including the establishment of a new national intelligence agency specialising in counterterrorism strategies. After the report's recommendations were made public, Ardern said the government agreed to implement all of them.[28][366] The report also found that YouTube had radicalised Tarrant.[367][368]

The inquiry was itself criticised by some Islamic community groups, such as the Islamic Women's Council, for not going far enough in its criticisms of government and police organisations, and the inquiry concluding that no organisation was at fault or had breached government standards.[369]

[314]

He Whenua Taurikura

In line with one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019, the New Zealand Government held a hui (social gathering) called "He Whenua Taurikura, a country at peace" on 15–16 June 2021 to discuss countering terrorism and violent extremism. The hui was attended by several community, civil society, media, academic, private sector, and government leaders and representatives including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) Director-General Rebecca Kitteridge, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, Anjum Rahman of the Islamic Women's Council and representatives from social media giants Facebook and Twitter, Amnesty International New Zealand, and the New Zealand Jewish Council. The hui's stated aims are "to develop options for the National Centre of Excellence, which will focus on generating research and public discussion to prevent and counter violent extremism, understand diversity and promote social cohesion."[370][371]

On 15 June, several Muslim delegates chanted "Free Palestine" and staged a walk-out at the He Whenua Taurikura after NZ Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses criticised Hezbollah and Hamas as terror organisations while discussing a pro-Hezbollah rally in Auckland in 2018. Muslim attendees including Haris Murtaza of the National Islamic Youth Association, the Federation of the Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) chair Abdur Razzaq, and Azad Khan of the Foundation against Islamophobia and Racism criticised Moses for her alleged Islamophobia, perceived insensitivity to Muslim mosque shooting survivors, and for injecting the Israel-Palestine conflict into the conference proceedings.[372][373] Moses later defended her remarks, denying that she was conflating Islam with terrorism but was seeking to raise the security concerns of the New Zealand Jewish community.[374]

During the conference, Anjum Rahman of the Islamic Women's Council testified that her group had tried to warn the Government of a potential attack on Muslims in New Zealand. Some delegates including Aliya Danzeisen, Iman Bsivov, and Radiya Ali also related encounters of racism and discrimination.[375] Danzeisen also criticised the insufficient presence of Muslim delegates among the panel. Victoria University of Wellington criminologist Sara Salman and Auckland University of Technology communications lecturer Khairiah Rahman said that counter-terrorism needed to address economic security, structural injustice, racism, and discrimination. Prime Minister Ardern also addressed the conference via video link.[376] Activist and "Foundation Against Islamophobia and Racism" Valerie Morse also called on Twitter senior director Nick Pickles to take action against a neo-Nazi account.[377]

Coroner's inquiry

Main article: Coroner's inquiry into the Christchurch mosque shootings

The Christchurch Masjidain Attack Inquiry is a coronial inquiry by the Coronial Services of New Zealand into the Christchurch mosque shootings. The coronial inquiry was preceded by criminal proceedings and a Royal Commission of Inquiry.[378] On 21 October 2021, Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall confirmed that she had opened an inquiry into the Christchurch mosque shootings.[379] In late October, Marshall confirmed that she plans to examine the initial response to the attacks by emergency services and whether any victims could have been saved if things had been done differently.[380]

The scope stage of the Inquiry was held between 22 and 24 February 2022,[381][382] which led Coroner Brigitte Windley to identify 12 issues to be examined.[383] The first phase was held between 24 October and 14 December 2023.[384][385][386] The first phase examined nine issues including the events of the 15 March, the Police, emergency services, and Christchurch Hospital's response to the attack, whether shooter Brenton Tarrant received help during the attack, and the final movements and circumstances of each the 51 deceased's deaths,[383] The second phase will examine the Police firearms licensing process, Tarrant's online radicalisation and future responses to violent extremism.[383]

Centre of Research Excellence

In line with the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry report into the Christchurch mosque shootings, the Government formally created the "Centre of Research Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism" in early June 2022. The goal of the research centre was to fund research and academic scholarships into countering terrorism and extremism. Prime Minister Ardern also announced that sociologists Professors Joanna Kidman and Paul Spoonley would serve as the directors of the Centre for Research Excellence.[387][388]

In early June 2024, the Centre's funding was reduced from NZ$1.325 million a year to NZ$500,000 in the 2024 New Zealand budget, amounting to NZ$3.3 million over the next four years. In response, Kidman described the budget reduction as a "huge cut" that would affect the Centre's research and operations. Similarly, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand's spokesperson Abdur Razzaq described the funding cut as "short-sighted."[389]

Film

At least two films about the Christchurch mosque shootings have been proposed, Hello Brother and They are Us. Both films have attracted controversy and their future production timetable is uncertain.[390]

In May 2019, Variety reported that the Egyptian writer and director Moez Masoud was developing a movie titled Hello Brother, based on the shootings.[391][392] Masoud's proposed film project was criticised by the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Al Noor Masjid, and New Zealand filmmaker Jason Lei Howken for taking advantage of the tragedy and failing to consult the Christchurch Muslim community.[393] In early August 2021, the New Zealand Herald reported that Masoud's film had been put on hold for unspecified reasons.[394]

Glen Basner's FilmNation Entertainment began soliciting funding for They are Us in June 2021. The film was intended to focus on Ardern's response to the shootings, with the Australian actress Rose Byrne being cast as Ardern, while New Zealander Andrew Niccol was named as its writer.[395] The filmmakers' choice to focus on Ardern's response rather than the victims attracted criticism.[396] A spokesperson for the Prime Minister clarified that Ardern and the New Zealand government had no involvement with the film. Some also felt casting an Australian as Ardern was questionable; while this was not an emphasised issue it was seen as emblematic of the foreign, not local, desire to make the film.[397] Several representatives of the New Zealand Muslim community also questioned the timing and appropriateness of the film.[398][399] Due to this public backlash, producer Philippa Campbell resigned in June 2021.[400] A draft script was then leaked to Newshub in July 2021 and was heavily criticised by the politicians depicted and the families of victims.[401][402][403] In response, the producers of They Are Us stated that the script is still in development and subject to change.[404] Later that same month it was confirmed that production had been put on hold until the producers had undertaken a full consultation with the country's Muslim community.[405][406]

Awards

On 6 July 2022, Governor-General Cindy Kiro awarded the New Zealand Cross to Linwood Mosque survivor Abdul Aziz and the late Naeem Rashid for confronting Tarrant. In addition, Kiro awarded the New Zealand Bravery Decoration to Senior Constables Scott Carmody and Jim Manning for apprehending the terrorist; and Liam Beale and Wayne Maley for helping survivors of the Al Noor mosque. In addition, Lance Bradford, Mike Robinson and Mark Miller (the latter posthumously) received the New Zealand Bravery Medal for helping victims of the mosque shootings.[407]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Capital punishment in New Zealand was abolished for murder in 1961, and for all crimes in 1989. The option to sentence an offender to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole was introduced in 2010.[177]
  2. ^ Australian prime minister Scott Morrison expressed support for New Zealand and condemned the shootings as a "violent, extremist, right-wing terrorist attack". He confirmed that an Australian had been detained as a suspect in connection with the attack.[408] British prime minister Theresa May described the incident as a "horrifying terrorist attack", and said "my thoughts are with all of those affected by this sickening act of violence".[409] Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed "deepest condolences" and said "Canada remembers too well the sorrow we felt when a senseless attack on the Centre culturel islamique de Québec in Ste-Foy claimed the lives of many innocent people gathered in prayer", referencing the Quebec City mosque shooting in 2017.[410] U.S. President Donald Trump extended his "warmest sympathy and best wishes...to the people of New Zealand," and he and the FBI offered them assistance[411][non-primary source needed][non-primary source needed] while security at mosques around the United States was increased.[412][413] Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Prime Minister Ardern a message of condolence, saying, "This attack on civilians who gathered for prayer is shocking in its violence and cynicism."[414] The lighting of the Ostankino Tower in Moscow, the tallest free-standing structure in Europe, was off for one hour as a sign of mourning.[415] King Salman of Saudi Arabia said, "The heinous massacre of the worshipers at mosques in New Zealand is a terrorist act."[416] He also called on the international community to confront hate speech and terrorism.[416][417] Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of Vatican City, sent a letter of condolences on behalf of Pope Francis, assuring the Muslim community in New Zealand of the Pope's "heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks" and saying, "His Holiness prays for the healing of the injured, the consolation of those who grieve the loss of their loved ones, and for all affected by this tragedy."[418] Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India expressed "deep shock and sadness" over the deaths and expressed India's solidarity with the people of New Zealand.[419] Condolences were also provided by Azerbaijani,[420] Bangladeshi,[421] Bruneian,[422] Cambodian,[423] Chinese,[424] Fijian,[425] Filipino,[426] Hungarian,[427] Indonesian,[428] Japanese,[429] South Korean,[430] Kosovar,[431] Malaysian,[432] Pakistani,[433] Singaporean,[434] Taiwanese,[435] Thai,[436] Turkish,[437] and Vietnamese[438] leaders.

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Further reading