Trump says white nationalism not widespread threat despite NZ massacre manifesto
Tessa BURROWS (AFP)
US President Donald Trump said Friday he does not think the massacre of at least 49 people in New Zealand mosques shows that white nationalism is a growing problem in the world.
"I don't really. I think it's a small group of people," he told reporters in the Oval Office.
The attacks on the two Christchurch mosques left at least 49 people dead. The gunman -- identified as an Australian white nationalist -- apparently livestreamed the assault and published a manifesto online.
The alleged killer appeared to have posted a lengthy manifesto earlier in which he claimed that white people were being overwhelmed and displaced by foreign cultures.
In the document, filled with racist conspiracy theories, he referred to Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose."
Asked if he'd seen the manifesto, Trump said: "I did not see it."
Earlier, he announced that he'd spoken with New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about the "horrific" massacre of Muslim worshippers.
The Australian gunman whose assaults on two New Zealand mosques Friday left at least 49 people dead, published a racist manifesto on Twitter before livestreaming his rampage.
The New Zealand government said it could be illegal to share the video, which showed the gunman repeatedly shooting at worshippers from close range.
The Facebook Live video, taken with a camera that appeared to be mounted on the gunman's body, shows a clean-shaven, Caucasian man with short hair driving to the Masjid al Noor mosque in central Christchurch.
He enters the building and fires repeatedly at worshippers as he moves from room to room.
AFP determined the video was genuine through a digital investigation that included matching screenshots of the mosque taken from the gunman's footage with images available online showing the same areas.
The "manifesto" detailing motivations for the attack was posted on Friday morning onto a Twitter account with the same name and profile image as the Facebook page that streamed the attack.
In the video, the shooter parks his car next to the mosque and gets out of the vehicle with a rifle. He slowly goes to the boot of his car and retrieves another firearm.
He then walks into the compound of the mosque and fires at a person standing near the doorway before dropping the rifle and shooting repeatedly with the second weapon as he moves inside.
The gunman fires dozens of bullets at people trying to run away or lying down in huddled groups in corners of the rooms.
In the excerpt of the video viewed by AFP, which did not appear to be the full clip, he can be seen changing cartridges three times in just under two minutes.
The framing of the video, which shows only the gunman's hands holding the gun as he shoots and reloads, is eerily similar to the style of a first-person shooter video game.
i24NEWS will not publish the distressing footage.
Western 'anti-Muslim' rhetoric
Following the deadly rampage, leaders around the world spoke out against the hate crime, with Iranian FM Jawad Zarif going as far as to insinuate Western far-right rhetoric was responsible for the attacks- attaching a picture of President Trump to his claim.
Impunity in Western "democracies" to promote bigotry leads to this:— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 15, 2019
-Israeli thugs enter mosque in Palestine to insult Muslims;
-Terrorists in NZ livestream their murder of 49 Muslims.
Western hypocrisy of defending demonization of Muslims as "freedom of expression" MUST end pic.twitter.com/WcxvtxpDxH
President Trump, meanwhile, condemned the "horrible massacre" on Friday.
"My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured," Trump wrote on Twitter after the attacks in Christchurch.
Trump, whose rhetoric is sometimes aligned with the far right in the United States, added: "The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!"
My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2019
Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also condemned the attack in official statements.
"Israel mourns the wanton murder of innocent worshippers in Christchurch and condemns the brazen act of terror in New Zealand. Israel sends its condolences to the bereaved families and its heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded," Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.
"I condemn the terrorist attack on the mosques in Christchurch in the strongest possible terms and send my condolences on behalf of the people of Israel to the families of the victims, the injured, the government and the people of NewZealand," Rivlin tweeted.
- Conspiracy theory -
In the 74-page manifesto entitled "The Great Replacement", the gunman details his intention to attack Muslims.
The title of the document has the same name as a conspiracy theory originating in France that believes European populations are being displaced in their homelands by immigrant groups with higher birth rates.
The gunman identified himself as an Australia-born, 28-year-old white male from a low-income, working-class family.
He said that key points in his radicalization were the defeat of the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen in 2017 elections, and the death of 11-year-old Ebba Åkerlund in the 2017 Stockholm truck attack.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday confirmed the attacker at the Masjid al Noor mosque was an Australian.
Heartbroken & horrified by the white nationalist terrorist attack during Jummah on the mosques and Muslim community in Christchurch. Keeping all affected by this tragedy in my heart and prayers. We need a global response to the global threat of violent white nationalism.— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 15, 2019
"We stand here and condemn, absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist," Morrison said.
New Zealand authorities said that three people had been arrested, but their identities were not made public. They later announced one man, aged in his late 20s, had been charged with murder and would appear in court on Saturday.
- Historical references -
The gunman spoke only occasionally while in the car, with what sounded like an Australian accent. Satellite navigational audio could also be heard in the video as he drove to the mosque.
Distinctive writing on his weapons was seen in the footage as well as images posted on the Twitter account.
Scrawled in English and several Eastern European languages were the names of numerous historical military figures -- many of them Europeans involved in fighting the Ottoman forces in the 15th and 16th centuries. A few took part in the Crusades, centuries earlier.
On behalf of the Labour Party, I laid a wreath at New Zealand House for the victims of the horrific terror attack in Christchurch.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) March 15, 2019
In their memory, we must build a world which respects our diversity. pic.twitter.com/Md9kesGOMO
The Facebook account that posted the video was no longer available shortly after the shooting. The Twitter account of the same name was quickly suspended.
"Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video," Facebook said in a tweet.
"We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware."
A spokesman for New Zealand's interior ministry said the video is likely to be classified as objectionable content under local law, and could be illegal to share.
"The content of the video is disturbing and will be harmful for people to see," he said. "This is a very real tragedy with real victims and we strongly encourage people to not share or view the video."
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