Australian Muslims have been warned to be extra vigilant following the terrorist shooting massacre of worshippers in New Zealand.
The 49 deaths at two mosques in Christchurch are the horrific consequence of hate, Muslims Australia president Rateb Jneid said on Friday.
“This act of terror on innocent worshippers is an atrocity and we grieve with the victims and their families,” Dr Jneid said in a statement.
One of the people arrested over the shooting has been identified as Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, from Grafton in NSW.
A total of three men and one woman have been arrested. One man, aged 28, has now been charged with murder and will appear in a Christchurch court tomorrow.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said of the three other people apprehended, one, who was armed when arrested, may have nothing to do with the incident.
“With the two others, who were also armed when they were arrested, we are working through what their involvement is,” Commissioner Bush said.
“We have recovered a number of firearms from both of the scenes.”
NSW Police moved to assure the public “there is no ongoing or specific threat to any mosque or place of worship in Sydney or across NSW”.
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“However, police have increased patrols and senior officers have also reached out to community and religious leaders across the state to provide support and reassurance,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Dr Jneid argues the New Zealand massacre is a product of ever-increasing Islamophobia and marginalisation of Muslims.
He said the atrocity was a reminder to all concerned, including political leaders and media commentators, “of the horrific consequences that an atmosphere of hate and division can lead to”.
He urged all governments to give extra attention to the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment and extremism.
Dr Jneid also encouraged all mosques and places of worship in Australia to be extra vigilant – and for members of the Muslim community to be particularly mindful of their safety in the coming days.
Queensland Police commissioner Ian Stewart said people should be alert to their surroundings without being alarmed.
He said police have told the multi-faith and multicultural communities in Queensland they will do everything they can to ensure their safety, even though they know there is no credible threat at this time in the state.
“It’s very important that people know they can go about their daily business, go about their prayers, go about their religious services without any fear,” he said.
“We also know that at times like these there is heightened concern in certain communities for backlash, for comment, for perhaps even assaults to occur.”