In wake of shooting, New Zealanders show kindness to Muslims
CHRISTCHURCH, Mar 16: New Zealand's stricken residents reached out to Muslims in their neighborhoods and around the country on Saturday, in a fierce determination to show kindness to a community in pain as a 28-year-old white supremacist stood silently before a judge, accused in mass shootings at two mosques that left 49 people dead.
Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared in court amid strict security, shackled and wearing all-white prison garb, and showed no emotion when the judge read him one murder charge. The judge said "it was reasonable to assume" more such charges would follow. Tarrant, who posted an anti-immigrant manifesto online and apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the slaughter, appeared to make a hand sign, similar to an OK sign, that is sometimes associated with white nationalists.
The massacre during Friday prayers prompted a heartfelt response from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who pronounced it "one of New Zealand's darkest days" and said the shooter, an Australian native, has chosen to strike in New Zealand "because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion."
Her fellow countrymen seemed to want to prove her right by volunteering acts of kindness. Some offered rides to the grocery store or volunteered to walk with their Muslim neighbors if they felt unsafe.
In other online forums, people discussed Muslim food restrictions as they prepared to drop off meals for those affected.
"Love always wins over hate. Lots of love for our Muslim brothers" read a handwritten card on a wall of flowers in a historic part of the city that stretched a full block.
Still, Muslims were advised to stay away from mosques while the nation's security alert remained at the second-highest level a day after the deadliest shooting in modern New Zealand history.
Tarrant posted a jumbled, 74-page manifesto on social media in which he identified himself as an Australian and white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.
The gunman livestreamed 17 minutes of his rampage at Al Noor Mosque, where, armed with at least two assault rifles and a shotgun, he sprayed worshippers with bullets, killing at least 41 people. Several more people were killed in an attack on a second mosque a short time later. -AP