CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, March 15, 2019 (Gephardt Daily/UPI) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a statement following the terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand, which killed 49 Muslim worshipers and injured many more.
The statement was issued by the Pacific Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of so many lives as a result of yesterday’s senseless attacks in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand,” it says.
“Our prayers are with the families of the deceased, the injured, and all others impacted by this tragedy. We also pray for all New Zealanders and our Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world.”
The statement is signed by Elder O. Vincent Haleck, Elder Ian S. Ardern and Elder K. Brett Nattress.
The attack happened at about 1:30 p.m. Friday in Christchurch, which would have been 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Utah.
At the time of the shooting, hundreds had gathered for prayers. Of the dead, 41 were killed at one mosque, seven at the other, and one died at the hospital.
Police said Brenton Tarrant, of Australia, was behind the attacks Friday at two Christchurch mosques, which officials say was nothing short of a terrorist plot motivated by extremism.
Social media posts police say were written by Tarrant included an anti-Muslim manifesto and references to Internet radicalization, NBC News reported.
The 74-page document says the shooter was inspired by right-wing extremists in the United States — including Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, who killed nine people in 2015.
Police said the manifesto contains conspiracy theories and echoes white nationalism seen at protests that resulted in violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.
Tarrant also wrote that his true “inspiration” came from Knight Anders Breivik, who killed 77 in a terrorist attack in Oslo, Norway, in 2011, and was motivated to defend “our lands” from “invaders” and ensure “a future for white children.” He describes himself in the manifesto as an ethno-nationalist and fascist.
The White House and U.S. President Donald Trump denounced the attacks Friday.
“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques,” he tweeted. “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!”
On Friday morning, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert released a statement:
Herbert released the following statement:
“I was heartbroken to hear of the hateful and vile attack on innocent worshippers in New Zealand,” his statement says.
“I am sickened when I think of it. In addition to the horror of these murders, I am disgusted by the shooter’s white supremacist ideology.
“We do not tolerate hatred in our communities. During this time of pain and mourning, I hope all Utahns will reach out in love to our Muslim neighbors. Let’s extend a comforting hand to those who may be feeling vulnerable and afraid.
“The State of Utah has a proud heritage of welcoming people of all creeds and backgrounds. During this time of mourning, our Department of Public Safety and Refugee Services Office are offering focused support to members of our Muslim community as we reaffirm our commitment to protecting the freedom and safety of all Utahns.”