Editorial comment – Shocking, despicable terror

Muslim followers at the scene of the shooting in Christchurch. Picture: RNZ

Why did it happen? How could it happen? We are not supposed to be hearing of such shocking news!

Not in our region! Aren’t we supposed to be part of a region that values life?

We are rich in history, culture and tradition.

We value family among many other things.

What happened yesterday in Christchurch, New Zealand has effectively thrown in a frightening element into life as we once knew it.

Who would have thought that gunmen would open fire on Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques?

It’s something we’d expect in some other part of the world, far removed from our seemingly peaceful region.

In fact that was once a foregone conclusion. It was just the way we perceived things here.

Yesterday’s mass killings sent shockwaves across the region.

We felt it because we are neighbours.

We felt it deeply because we are family in many ways.

We have a special bond that stretches past mere international borders.

That discards every imaginary demarcation line, casting aside differences that other countries in other parts of the world have long embraced.

About 6.30pm yesterday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said 40 people had lost their lives in the “terrorist attack”.

She said 10 of the people were killed at Lynwood Avenue Mosque, and three outside the mosque.

Thirty people lost their lives at the Deans Avenue Mosque while more than 20 people were admitted at the Christchurch Hospital for injuries sustained during the mayhem.

It was shocking! Many Fijians would have felt an emotional attachment to the uncertainty and fear that would have swept through Christchurch. It’s because we care.

Despite our differences, whatever they may be, we still feel an attachment to New Zealand.

By last night, when this edition went to press, the death toll had risen to 49! It was a sad day for New Zealand.

What will tear at the hearts of many Fijians is the fact that such a despicable act happened in what is a place of worship, where peace, unity, hope, and love for one another are nurtured, advocated, embraced and encouraged.

We feel the hurt, the shock and the great sense of fear of the people of New Zealand, and feel an emotional attachment to a way of life that was shot to pieces yesterday.

What happened is a cowardly attack on the right of people to choose, believe, embrace and respect what is dear to them.

Today we join the many voices that strongly condemn the killings, and the actions taken by all those involved in its planning and execution.

We pray that good sense will prevail, and that justice will be served.

We echo the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s statement, and condemn all forms of hatred and terror.

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