‘Scared’ Muslims avoid Christchurch mosques a month after attacks

The Muslim community in Christchurch was shaken when a 28-year-old Australian opened fire at the Linwood and Al Noor mosques on March 15, killing dozens of worshipers. (AFP)
Updated 12 April 2019
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‘Scared’ Muslims avoid Christchurch mosques a month after attacks

  • Muslim worshipers are still struggling to overcome their fears of going to Friday prayers because of the attack
  • “They are still very scared,” Linwood mosque Imam Ibrahim Abdelhalim said

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Four weeks on from the New Zealand mosques massacre, the Christchurch Muslim community was struggling to get worshippers to overcome their fears and return to Friday prayers.
“They are still very scared,” Linwood mosque Imam Ibrahim Abdelhalim told AFP. “Normally we would expect around 100, but now it’s about 30.”
A 28-year-old Australian, Brenton Tarrant, a self-avowed white supremacist, has been charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 of attempted murder after opening fire at the Linwood and Al Noor mosques on March 15.
The Muslim community was further shaken this week when a 33-year-old man, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of US President Donald Trump, shouted abuse at worshippers at the Al Noor mosque.
Daniel Nicholas Tuapawa, who pleaded guilty in court Friday to acting in a manner “likely to cause violence,” said he did not realize what he had done until police showed him a video of him yelling abusive comments including “all Muslims are terrorists.”
“I can’t believe this is actually me,” he told reporters after being remanded on bail until July 31 for sentencing.
Tuapawa said he suffered from mental health issues and had nothing against Muslims.
“It’s just because it’s been in the news and in my head,” he said.

Abdelhalim said many Muslims who wanted to return to the mosques “are having flashbacks and that’s not good.”
New Zealand police have issued a statement saying the national threat level “remains high” a month after the slaughter, even though the gunman is thought to have acted alone.
The security fears have led to a drastic reduction in the number of services later this month on Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance to commemorate New Zealanders and Australians who served in wars and peacekeeping operations.
In Auckland, only 26 will take place — down from nearly 90 last year — which the city’s police commander Karyn Malthus said would make it easier for police to maintain public safety.
“There is no information about a specific threat to ANZAC events at this time, however, it’s important that the public be safe and feel safe at events in the current environment,” she said.
In the wake of the shootings, New Zealand has rushed through legislation to tighten firearms regulations, removing semi-automatic weapons from circulation through a buy-back scheme, prohibition and harsh prison sentences.
On Friday, the government closed a potential loophole by extending the law to cover exports of semi-automatic weapons, magazines and parts.
It shuts off the possibility of gun owners snubbing the buyback scheme and selling their now-illegal firearms to overseas buyers for more money.
“These changes are essential to ensure that weapons that are prohibited in New Zealand are not exported to other countries where they would pose a similar risk,” deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said.


Portugal suspends visas for Iranians for 'security reasons'

Updated 16 July 2019
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Portugal suspends visas for Iranians for 'security reasons'

  • Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said Portugal does not play around with entry into its territory

LISBON: Portugal has suspended the issuance of entry visas for Iranian nationals for unspecified security reasons, Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Answering a question from a committee member on whether such a move had been taken, Santos Silva said during the televised meeting: “Yes, we suspended those for security reasons ... I will provide explanations later, but not publicly.”
“Portugal does not play around with entry into its territory,” he added, without disclosing when the decision was taken.
The chairman declared the meeting closed after about two hours without further off-camera testimony.
Joao Goncalves Pereira, the lawmaker from the conservative CDS-PP party who asked the question, told Reuters: “We received information that visas for Iranians had been suspended for two or three weeks, and we just wanted to confirm that.”
He would not say what was the source of that original information or whether any Iranian nationals had complained about the situation.
Foreign ministry officials had no immediate comment and nobody was available for comment in the Iranian embassy in Lisbon.