PM Jacinda Ardern promises to never speak alleged Christchurch shooter's name

2019-03-19 04:21:21

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised never to utter the alleged Christchurch shooter's name.

In a speech to Parliament on Tuesday honouring the victims of the mosque shootings Ardern said the alleged killer wanted notoriety but she will deny him that, and hoped others would do the same.

"He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless," Ardern said.

"And to others I implore you: speak the names of those who were lost, rather than name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name."

She gave the opening speech as part of a ministerial statement on the terror attack, which saw at least 50 killed.

The statement was preceded by a prayer from Imam Nizam ul haq Thanvi and a procession featuring leaders from several religious denominations. The prayer was then repeated in English.

"Oh Lord, our honourable Prime Minister has said that Friday 15 March was one of the darkest days in New Zealand's history. Oh Lord, make this day a source of light for this country and the entire world—the light which unites us all as one family," Tahir Nawaz said, translating the prayer.

Several MPs could be seen crying during the prayer.

Ardern directly addressed the families of the fallen.

"We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage. We can. And we will, surround you with aroha, manaakitanga and all that makes us, us. Our hearts are heavy, but our spirit is strong."

She praised the bravery of the two officers who arrested the alleged shooter, as he continued to shoot, by ramming his vehicle.

"Two country police officers rammed the vehicle from which the offender was still shooting. They pulled open his car door, when there were explosives inside, and pulled him out," Ardern said.

She also praised first responders and Abdul Aziz, who rushed at the terrorist with an eftpos machine.

"There will be countless stories, some of which we may never know, but to each, we acknowledge you in this place, in this House."

Ardern added her voice to growing criticism of the social networks that struggled to take down the live-stream of the shooting, where hate speech has often proliferated. She pushed back at the idea that these networks were neutral platforms with no real responsibility for what was said by their users.

"There is no question that ideas and language of division and hate have existed for decades, but their form of distribution, the tools of organisation, they are new," Ardern said.

"We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published. They are the publisher. Not just the postman. There cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.

"This of course doesn't take away the responsibility we too must show as a nation, to confront racism, violence and extremism. I don't have all of the answers now, but we must collectively find them. And we must act."


National leader Simon Bridges said the attacks had changed the country forever.

"These New Zealanders had their lives ended, and all of us changed for ever," Bridges said.

"We let them down and for that we are sorry."

"The unimaginable hurt that our Islamic community is feeling is shared amongst all New Zealanders, because I know that every New Zealander feels this wasn't just something targeted at our Islamic community or just to Christchurch—as real as that is. It has happened to all New Zealanders, and all New Zealanders are grieving with them."

"Our strength as a nation is our compassion and our welcoming of diversity. It's been a hallmark of our culture for hundreds of years. This will not change us. At times like these, we do not consider ourselves Christian or Muslim, Sikh or Jew, Māori or Pākehā, Chinese, Pacific Islander, Indian, or any other ethnicity—today and for ever we are all New Zealanders."

He said he could not see the need for anyone to have a semi-automatic weapon for recreational use. He joined the Prime Minister in asking more of social networks.

"Why are small networks of hateful people able to congregate online and elsewhere and attempt to sow disharmony? How can these hateful people then take tangible steps to carry out evil acts? Do our police and intelligence services have the people, the resources, the legislation, and the technology to seek out and prevent such acts?"

"Let's see New Zealand re-evaluate the boundaries of acceptable social and political discussion. Our resolve now should be to take every opportunity to push against extremism, to call out hate and fear when we see it, and to stand up to the vile ideologies that exist to spread hate, fear, mistrust, and lies.

Deputy Prime Minister and NZ First leader Winston Peters said the gunman would not tear New Zealand apart.

"New Zealand is not alone, but the terrorist formula is always the same," Peters said.

"Wherever terror strikes it seeks to create or provoke fear and panic. But in New Zealand it has failed. It has failed because our thoughts are not the terrorist's thoughts and his ways are not our ways," Peters said.

"While everything else may have changed since March 15, New Zealand's essential character has not and will not."

Green co-leader Marama Davidson said New Zealand needed to have "uncomfortable conversations" following the attack.

"We must work together, all of us, to become an Aotearoa where everyone is safe to pray, or not, an Aotearoa where people are safe to be who they are," Davidson said.

"I want us all to commit to never accepting that racism and bigotry from anyone."

Parliament will not hold any Question Times this week. It's understood the National Party requested this cancellation.

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