18 marzo, 2019



What happened? In what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” at least 49 people were gunned down during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, an eastern city of about 375,000. Dozens more were injured in the country’s worst-ever terror attack. Three suspects are in custody — they had not been on terror watch lists previously — and explosive devices found in their cars have been defused. One man in his late 20s has been charged with murder.
Why does it matter? The shock of Friday’s attacks was amplified by the fact that it occurred in a country of 4.8 million otherwise mostly devoid of social, economic or political turmoil. Long considered a bastion of stability, New Zealand has come face-to-face with the kind of extremist violence that seems to have become distressingly common elsewhere. It poses a challenge not only for the fresh-faced Ardern — who’s been touted globally as a model of progressive leadership — but also quite possibly for the country more broadly.


Hateful — and viral. While police haven’t identified any suspects, an Australian-born former fitness instructor named Brenton Tarrant used Facebook to livestream what appeared to be part of an attack at the Al Noor mosque in a 17-minute video. He also reportedly posted a rambling 74-page manifesto that railed against immigrants as “invaders,” among other apparent nods to White supremacy. In the aftermath of Friday’s carnage, some journalists accused major social media platforms of failing to stop the video from spreading, while others in the media have warned their colleagues against misinterpreting a manifesto they believe is “thick with irony” and possibly intentionally misleading.
Shattered peace. New Zealand has long prided itself as a peaceful outpost in a world increasingly marred by extremist violence, a claim backed by its own statistics as well as international rankings. According to the most recent available data from local authorities, the country witnessed a total of 35 murders in 2017 — that’s 14 less than the number of people murdered within a few hours in Friday’s attacks. And for the past two years, New Zealand has ranked second among 167 nations, behind only Iceland, in the Global Peace Index, which is measured by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace. The most recent mass shooting occurred in 1997; by comparison, the U.S. has experienced 90 such events since that year.

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