‘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

‘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.


New virus cases in China fall for 2nd day, deaths top 2,000

In this picture taken on February 14, 2020, a Malaysia Airlines hostess (R) wearing a protective face mask checks the temperature of a Chinese passenger before she boards a flight to Beijing at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Kuala Lumpur. (AFP)
Updated 21 min 37 sec ago

New virus cases in China fall for 2nd day, deaths top 2,000

  • China may postpone its biggest political meeting of the year, the annual congress due to start in March, to avoid having people travel to Beijing while the virus is still spreading

BEIJING: New virus cases in China continued to fall Wednesday, with 1,749 new infections and 136 new deaths announced after China’s leader said disease prevention and control was at “a critical time.”
The much-criticized quarantine of a cruise ship in Japan to avoid spreading the virus ends later in the day. The 542 cases on the ship were the most in any place outside of China and medical experts have called the quarantine a failure.
The updated figures on the COVID-19 illness for mainland China bring the total for cases to 74,185 and deaths to 2,004. New cases have fallen to under 2,000 daily for the past two days.
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke about the efforts to control the outbreak in a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described in state media.
Separately, the UN secretary-general told The Associated Press that the virus outbreak “is not out of control but it is a very dangerous situation.” Antonio Guterres said in an interview in Lahore, Pakistan, that “the risks are enormous and we need to be prepared worldwide for that.”
China has locked down several cities in central Hubei province where the outbreak hit hardest, halting nearly all transportation and movement except for the quarantine efforts, medical care and delivery of food and basic necessities.
China also may postpone its biggest political meeting of the year, the annual congress due to start in March, to avoid having people travel to Beijing while the virus is still spreading. One of the automotive industry’s biggest events, China’s biannual auto show, was postponed, and many sports and entertainment events have been delayed or canceled.
Many countries set up border screenings and airlines canceled flights to and from China to prevent further spread of the disease, which has been detected in around two dozen countries and caused almost 1,000 confirmed cases outside mainland China. Five deaths have been reported outside the mainland, in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and France.
The largest number of cases outside China is the 542 on the Diamond Princess at a port near Tokyo.
South Korea evacuated six South Koreans and a Japanese family member from the ship, and they began an additional 14-day quarantine Wednesday. More than 300 American passengers were evacuated earlier and are quarantined in the United States, including at least 14 who had tested positive for the virus.
On Tuesday, the US government said the more than 100 American passengers who stayed on the ship or were hospitalized in Japan would have to wait for another two weeks before they could return to the US
The US also upgraded its travel advisory for China to Level 4, telling its citizens not to travel to anywhere in the country and advising those currently in China to attempt to depart by commercial means.
“In the event that the situation further deteriorates, the ability of the US Embassy and Consulates to provide assistance to US nationals within China may be limited. The United States is not offering chartered evacuation flights from China,” the notice said.
“We strongly urge US citizens remaining in China to stay home as much as possible and limit contact with others, including large gatherings. Consider stocking up on food and other supplies to limit movement outside the home,” the notice said. The US previously flew out scores of its citizens on charter flights from Wuhan but does not have any further plans to do so, it said.
Despite, such warnings, the capital Beijing was showing signs of coming back to life this week, with road traffic at around a quarter of usual up from virtually nothing a week ago. While most restaurants, stores and office buildings remained closed, others had reopened. People entering were required to have their temperatures taken and register their contact information.