Apparent Anti-Immigrant Attack Leaves 49 Dead in New Zealand Mosques

Horrific attacks on two mosques in New Zealand have left at least 49 dead and a nation stunned. The brazen assaults occurred in Christchurch. Four individuals, three men and one woman, have been taken into custody. At least 41 died at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch while another 8 were killed at the suburban Linwood Mosque.

Witnesses reported that a gunman clad entirely in black entered the Masjid Al Noor mosque and opened fire with an automatic weapon. Women and children are believed to be among the victims. At least 20 people are being treated for related injuries.

Parts of the attack were broadcast live. So far, the identities and motives of the attackers have not been made public. At least one attacker was from Australia. However, there are some reports that one of the attackers published a 75-page anti-immigrant manifesto. The Washington Post reports that in the manifesto, the author claimed that there was nowhere “left to go that was safe and free from mass immigration” and that he wanted to ensure “a future for white children.”

Previously, the deadliest shooting in New Zealand history claimed 13 lives and lead to a number of gun law reforms. While New Zealand has stricter gun laws than the United States, it is still possible for citizens to acquire guns. The New Zealand government estimates that there are 1.2 million firearms in the nation of 4.8 million.

Immigration has become a hot topic in the geographically isolated nation. Roughly 25 percent of New Zealand’s population was born overseas. Roughly three quarters of the population is of European descent. According to the 2013 Census, just 1.18 percent of the population practiced Islam.

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Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is a political consultant and has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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