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White supremacy still plagues New Zealand, PM says

March 13, 2020

The prime minister was speaking ahead of the one year anniversary of the shooting spree that killed 51 people at two mosques. Ardern admitted there was still "much more" her country could do to deal with extremism.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a news conference in Christchurch
Image: Reuters/M. Hunter

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday said the country still has a lot to do to tackle white supremacy, almost a year to the day since the Christchurch massacres.

"New Zealand is not free of those groups who define themselves as extremist white supremacists, those groups exist here," Ardern said.

"The responsibility we have is to combat not only that existence, but the precursors to that existence. There is much more that we can do," the 39-year-old lawmaker added.

Come together

Ardern, who later on Friday attended a joint prayer with members of both mosques that were attacked, said the best way to honor victims was "to call out bullying, harassment, racism, discrimination, as a nation."

"People will feel safe when they feel supported," she continued. "When they feel the community is looking after them and when they feel they are not facing discrimination or jibes in the street or comments that make them feel unsafe."

Read more: Opinion: Terrorism does not discriminate

Since the attacks, Ardern said people had told her they had visited mosques for the first time, and had found themselves more openly talking about differences of faith.

"A year on, I believe New Zealand and its people have fundamentally changed. I can't see how you could have an event like this and not," Ardern said.

Ardern: 'Unfathomable threats'

Her comments come in the wake of police arresting a 19-year-old man this month due to a threat he made against the Al Noor mosque, one of the places of worship attacked on March 15 last year.

"It is unfathomable to me that, after everything the Muslim community has experienced, we have people who are... (making) threats against our Muslim community," the New Zealand prime minister said.

Ardern plans to attend a national memorial on Sunday to mark the one year anniversary of the day when 51 people were killed when a lone gunmen went on a shooting spree.

jsi/sms (AFP, dpa, AP)

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