Hours after 49 people were killed in a pair of attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, an Australian lawmaker blamed the bloodshed on the country’s tolerance for Muslim immigration.
Fraser Anning, an independent senator from Queensland, stipulated that he is “utterly opposed to any form of violence” before citing Muslim extremism to explain the attacks.
“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” Anning said in a written statement.
I don’t think I have ever seen a statement like this from an elected official after a terrorist attack: pic.twitter.com/83RCLcM7Mg
— Seema (@LATSeema) March 15, 2019
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison immediately condemned Anning, writing on Twitter that “remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting. Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament.”
“New Zealand, like Australia, is home to people from all faiths, cultures and backgrounds. There is absolutely no place in either of our countries for the hatred and intolerance that has bred this extremist, terrorist violence and we condemn it,” Morrison added.
The first shooting claimed seven lives at the Linbrook mosque and ended after an armed congregant pursued and fired on the gunmen. A 28-year-old Australian man then killed 41 people at the Al Noor mosque and livestreamed the attack, creating a horrific 17-minute video of the carnage that was widely distributed on social media.
The Al Noor gunman, who has been arrested and charged with murder, also published a 87-page manifesto replete with white-nationalist propaganda.
Three other people have also been arrested in connection with the attacks but it is unclear whether they will be charged.
Anning was roundly condemned and removed from his party after calling for a “final solution to the immigration problem” during his maiden speech to the senate in August 2018.