Christchurch mosque attacks: Muslim leaders – government agencies failed to protect them

Christchurch Muslim leaders say government agencies have failed to protect their communities.

A report following a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the March 15 mosque attacks was released today, which included 44 recommendations.

Fifty-one people died when Brenton Tarrant opened fire at Al Noor and Linwood Mosques.

The report identifies failings by government agencies, including the New Zealand intelligence service focusing on ‘Islamic extremists’, but failing to investigate the threat posed by the ‘Far Right’.

The report also found the police failed to process the gunman’s firearms licence appropriately.

Christchurch Muslim leaders were holding a press conference at 3pm Tuesday to respond to the report.

“Before the terror attack, I had reported suspicious people around the Deans Avenue mosque but was disappointed by the lack of action taken by police,” said Masjid An-nur Imam Gamal Fouda.

“The report shows that institutional prejudice and unconscious bias exists in government agencies and that needs to change.”

He wanted to thank the Royal Commission for showing “great sensitivity” to those who took part in the inquiry, and described the report as “thorough and robust”.

Faisal Sayad, of the Linwood Islamic Centre, said bias shown by government agencies led to a lack of trust between their community and several government agencies – including the police.

“We now need to ensure that the changes this inquiry recommends will be effective in rebuilding that trust,” he said.

Abdigani Ali, spokesperson for Al Noor and Linwood Mosques said his community “should have been safe here”.

“We’ve known for a long time the Muslim community has been unfairly targeted with hate speech and hate crimes – this report shows that we are right.”

He said they found it “alarming” that the risk posed by right-wing extremism was “so poorly understood and resourced” by New Zealand intelligence services and that prior to May 2018 resources were allocated almost exclusively to the threat of Islamist extremist terrorism.

“This report must lead to change – we have 800 pages of words, we now need them translated to powerful action,” he said.

“It’s time for change and the time is ripe to make those changes. We have one of the most diverse parliaments in the world and all sorts of groups are waking up to outdated ideology that has disadvantaged different parts of New Zealand’s community for a very long time.”

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