What we know
It is coming up to 7am Saturday in New Zealand, and the gunman is due to appear in court this morning. If you are just waking up, here is what has happened overnight:
- Forty-nine people are confirmed dead following the two attacks on Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch
- A further 48 are injured and being treated at Christchurch hospital
- A 28-year-old Australian citizen is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court Saturday morning charged with murder later Saturday morning
- Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have all claimed citizens involved in the attack, though few victims have yet been named. People can register missing persons or themselves as alive at this website
- YouTube, Facebook and Twitter struggled to remove video footage of the attack, while media was criticised for hosting it
- Images from the gunmanâs camera showed weapons and ammunition displaying white-supremacist symbols. His manifesto remains online but commentators have strongly warned against interpreting it too literally
- Weapons were found near the mosques where the shooting occurred, while police were at a property in the city of Dunedin linked to the shootings overnight
- Mosques have been advised to close their doors until further notice
- Many events due to take place in New Zealand today have been cancelled, including the third cricket Test between Bangladesh and New Zealand
- Crowdfunding campaigns have already raised nearly NZ $850,000 (Â£440,000) for victims support
- In the UK and the US, police have stepped up patrols in areas with large Muslim populations and around places of worship in direct response to the attack
- The Queen, Theresa May, Pope Francis, Donald Trump, and other world leaders expressed sorrow, shock and anger
Suspect’s rifle was covered in white-supremacist graffiti
Extremists hard to identify online ‘where everything can be a joke’ â expert
The in-joke-filled, irony-laden vocabulary of the far-right online communities that spawned the terror attack in Christchurch on Friday makes it âextremely difficultâ to distinguish a sick joke from a deadly serious threat, according to experts on the international far right and online information warfare.
References to âshitpostingâ, YouTube stars and the 17th century Battle of Vienna are hallmarks of âthat online culture where everything can be a joke and extremist content can be a parody and deadly serious all on the same page,â said Ben Nimmo, a researcher at the Atlantic Council. âDistinguishing between the two is extremely difficult.
âYou have these communities who routinely practice extreme rhetoric as a joke, so itâs very easy to fit in if youâre a real extremist.â
It also leads to situations where mainstream observers unknowingly aid terrorists by spreading propaganda without recognising it for what it is.
âThe way we always have to look at manifestos like this: itâs a PR document, a propaganda document, thatâs meant to be analysed, exposed, read and thought about,â said Patrik Hermansson, a researcher at Hope Not Hate. âThe more confusing it is, the more it might be spread.â
Renaud Camusâ 2011 book The Great Replacement seems to have inspired the gunmanâs 74-page âmanifestoâ â it certainly served as the title for it. The French far-right polemicist has denounced the murders as âterrorist, terrible, criminal, disastrous and imbecilicâ, but conceded the âethnic substitutionâ that he argues is taking place in the west could encourage violence.
Camus, 72, told Agence France-Presse that the gunman âcannot claim to have acted according to my writings because I argue the opposite. If he wrote a brochure titled The Great Replacement itâs plagiarism, an abusive use of a phrase that is not his and that he plainly does not understand.â
The essayist, whose âtheoryâ that Europeâs white majority is being steadily replaced by non-white, often Muslim immigrants, is often advanced by far right and anti-immigration figures in France and elsewhere on the continent, was convicted in 2015 of incitement to hatred or violence against Muslims.
Camus told AFP was was âabsolutely non-violent. I utterly condemn these acts.â He added, however, that âwhat worries me most about what I call âthe great replacementâ is precisely the extent to which it could encourage violence, of all kinds, in everyday life but also â obviously â in acts of terrorismâ.
It seemed to him that the gunman was more likely to have been inspired by the Islamist terror attacks carried out in France in the past four or five years, he said: âI do not see what he should be more inspired by me than by acts that directly resemble those he carried out.â
Theresa May responds: ‘To target Muslims is despicable’
Prime minister Theresa May has released a statement, confirming that she has been in touch with New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern over the âhorrifying terrorist attackâ:
âTo target Muslims as they were attending their place of worship is despicable. And our thoughts and prayers are with the people of New Zealand, with the families and friends of those who have died in these attacks and with all those who have been injured. The UK stands ready to support New Zealand however we can.
Through terror attacks that have taken place on UK soil we know only too well the pain that such horrifying attacks can cause. As New Zealand has stood by us so we stand shoulder to shoulder with them, and with Muslims in New Zealand, here in the UK and around the world.
There can be no place in our societies for the vile ideology that drives and incites hatred and fear. Together we will defeat those who seek to destroy our values, our way of life and seek to divide us.â
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