The South Asia Forum for Freedom of Religion or Belief (SAFFORB) strongly condemns the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand that took place on 15thMarch 2019 which claimed over 49 lives so far, including that of children and left scores of them injured. The shootings were carried out at two mosques- Al Noor and Linwood in Christchurch allegedly by a gunman, Brenton Tarrant, an extremist who live streamed the ghastly shootings through a video. This terror attack is unprecedented in the multicultural country of New Zealand. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinta Ardern, the civil society organizations and common citizens of New Zealand have unequivocally condemned this terrorist attack, are deeply saddened with this act of hatred and stand in solidarity with the victims. This attack underlines the pressing need for reflection and meaningful dialogue about religions and how they need not be a divisive factor in modern democracies. Religions have influenced with its principles and teachings, the positive morals in human society of kindness, love, compassion and truth. Different religions and cultures have contributed to a vibrant social fabric where there is potential and precedence of harmonious and meaningful exchanges and cohabitation leading to human advancement. In societies with diverse identities, there is space and freedom for every individual to practice his/her religion or belief without trampling on the rights of other individuals. Every state must ensure through structures the democratic spaces to defend and ensure equality, every individual’s basic right to practice their religion. This is a precondition for a vibrant, resilient and peaceful country and human society. Barriers of religion, ethnicity, race, gender, jingoistic nationalism have to be overcome to embrace humanity and put an end to this bloodlust claiming innocent lives. This bloodshed is an assault on humanity. SAFFORB stands in solidarity with the families of the victims and New Zealanders and rejects this act of violence. SAFFORB calls for protection of freedom of religion of all, particularly the minorities.
SAFFORB Working Group:
Maung Maung Yin
Preman Rajan Rohaan
Samuel Jayakumar ( Coordinator)