The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has issued a statement following the shooting of two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which have resulted in the confirmed deaths of 49 people so far.
“The SA Jewish Board of Deputies condemns in the strongest terms the heinous shootings of worshipers in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand,” the statement reads.
“We stand up against hate crimes against all religious communities. Our sympathies are with the families of the deceased and our prayers with those injured. We stand in solidarity with the people of Christchurch. We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community,” it continues.
One of the gunmen of the Christchurch attack – who live-streamed the attack – had Australian citizenship and has been labelled a right-wing terrorist by the country’s prime minister.
Attacks on places of worship in the last few years have fueled fears of the rise of this form of terrorism.
In January 2017, six worshipers were killed and nine were injured after an attack on a mosque in Quebec, Canada.
Then, in October 2018, 11 people were killed after an attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, USA.
The Pittsburgh synagogue attack prompted an outpouring of interfaith solidarity between Muslims and Jews at the time, with the SAJBD statement – one of several from Jewish organisations so far – showing that the Queensland mosque attack has inspired the same.
New Zealand police have confirmed that the death toll following armed assaults on two Christchurch mosques on Friday has risen to 49.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had previously confirmed that 40 people were dead and over 20 were injured.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she said. “From what we know, it does appear to have been well-planned.”
“Two explosive devices attached to suspect vehicles have now been found and they have been disarmed,” she added.
An Australian extremist was among four believed to be responsible for the killing of multiple Muslim worshippers during Friday prayers, authorities said, in an apparently live-streamed attack that forced the New Zealand city of Christchurch into lockdown.
“New Zealand was attacked because we represent diversity.”
The Christchurch attackers were not on any terror watch-lists.
(Additional reporting by AFP)