May 16, 2019
By Alicia Henrichsen
On a peaceful afternoon in Christchurch, New Zealand, Muslims had been worshiping at their local mosques. As one worshiper was entering Al Noor mosque, he greeted a new face with the words “Hello, brother.” However, his greeting was drastically interrupted with the deafening sound of gunshots.
At 1:40 p.m., Al Noor was targeted for a terrorist attack. Then, at 1:55 p.m., the Linwood Islamic Centre, also in Christchurch, was attacked.
Senior Sema Karabulut, a Muslim American, said she fears for her safety and recognizes the dangers in the wake of the Christchurch shootings.
“Knowing people like me, faithful and humble Muslims are being targeted, this scares me,” Karabulut said.
Religious sanctuaries worldwide have increased security so people of all faiths could worship publicly in peace.
Karabulut said security measures should be enforced but should not interrupt worship.
“[People] go to these sanctuaries to escape their current world to be with God and feel safe, which the New Zealand victims were invaded on,” Karabulut said. “I believe there should not be security on [the grounds of] or in these sanctuaries, but the police should be on their toes and always be alert.”
Senior Paula Agustin said due to recent events, people should take extra precautions.
“I fear for the safety of worshipers, especially since there are many religious people in Lyndhurst. I definitely do not want anyone to be killed while in a religious service,” Agustin said.
This mass shooting was particularly significant because the gunman live-streamed his attack on Facebook.
Agustin said the attack itself was sickening, but to know it was being recorded was even more terrible.
“It makes me feel disgusted. A video of actual citizens being murdered should never be accessible to view on the internet,” Agustin said.
Facebook said it promptly shut down the account, but the 17-minute video spread quickly online.
Junior Ornella Novak said the only way to stop this kind of violence is by limiting access to arms.
“I think there definitely must be stricter gun control,” Novak said. “I know it’s very controversial, but the weapons that are commonly used in these types of shootings are used for one purpose only: to kill humans.”
On March 21, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern imposed temporary restrictions, banning military-style semi-automatic weapons, which were used in the mosque shootings.
On April 10, the restriction was made permanent with the passage of a law that was approved by 119 out of 120 Parliament members. The law bans the types of weapons that were used by Tarrant, which include two semiautomatic weapons, two shotguns and one lever-action firearm. Violators of this law will be sentenced to five years in prison.
Many in the United States are now asking their government to follow New Zealand’s lead.
“[Government officials] need to take a step back and realize how much damage they are doing to our country,” said Novak.