Christchurch: The ‘imam’ of one of the mosques here that survived back to back shootings last month called the terror attack a “second September 11.”
“I call the attacks in Christchurch second September 11 [,2001]. It is going to be a turning point to change the world,” Imam Gamal Fouda of Al Noor told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.
“The first person, who came to [New Zealand] from overseas to show kindness and support and gave condolences to the community, was Vice President of Turkey [Fuat Oktay] and Foreign Minister [Mevlut Cavusoglu],” Fouda said while referring to state visits made from Turkey in the wake of the Christchurch attack.
“And next day, I met with them at the hotel, next morning they came to families and they offered condolences and they called President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and President Erdogan talked to people and offered condolences. That was something people needed,” the Imam was quoted as saying.
Fifty people were gunned down during the March 15 twin terror attacks at Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch.
“It was a big tragedy but I said the heart is broken but the mind is not broken; we came back again quickly because we know this is not New Zealand,” Fouda further noted.
The September 11 attacks, also referred to as 9/11, were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others.
In reference to Australian Senator Fraser Anning’s anti-immigrant remarks, the Imam said, “It was a blessed egg.”
On March 17, Fraser stirred up a controversy after he linked the deadly terror attacks at two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city with “immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
“Majority of Australians are very kind people,” Fouda added.
The Imam also praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her goodwill gesture towards the families of the victims and said: “Jacinda Ardern, PM of New Zealand gave a lesson and love to the world. She set a good example to the world, good example to nations and good example to people that this is a leader.”
Fouda termed Ardern as “mother of the world, mother of peace, mother of love, mother of humanity, mother of kindness and mother of compassion”.
In addition, Faudo also criticised those who did not call Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year old attacker, a “terrorist.”
“If he was a Muslim, believe it or not, even Muslim people would say he is a terrorist but when it happened by a non-Muslim person, some people tend not to say, terrorist. It is not proper for them because of political power and political agenda but in their hearts, we know that they know it is a terrorist attack,” Faudo said.
Faudo said that terrorism has no religion, faith, language, and race.
“We have actually stop and think. Terrorism has no religion, no faith, has no language, has no color, has no race, has no God. So, we actually have to stop and think about it. A criminal should be labeled as a criminal. That’s it,” he added.
The Christchurch High Court on Friday ordered Tarrant to undergo a psychiatric assessment before appearing for his hearing once again on June 14.
A day before, the New Zealand Police laid down 50 charges of murder and 39 attempted murder charges against Tarrant.
If convicted, Tarrant will be sentenced with life imprisonment without parole, and a confirmation that he is one among the deadliest white-nationalist-inspired mass murderers in recent years.
To prevent further acts of terror and mass shootings in the country Prime Minister Ardern implemented a ban on the sale of assault rifles and semi-automatics across New Zealand.