New Zealand’s chief censor has banned a document shared by the man allegedly responsible for killing 50 people in two Christchurch mosques.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 people so far have opted to hand in weapons following a ban on assault rifles and military-style semi-automatics (MSSAs).
David Shanks, the chief censor, officially classed the so-called manifesto as “objectionable” and told anyone in possession of it to destroy it.
“There is an important distinction to be made between ‘hate speech,’ which may be rejected by many right-thinking people, but which is legal to express, and this type of publication, which is deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism,” Shanks said in making his decision.
He said the document “crosses the line” by promoting, encouraging and justifying acts of murder, and terrorist violence against identified groups of people.
“New Zealanders can all play a part in denying those who exhort hatred, killing and terror,” Shanks said. “Do not support the murderous objectives of its author by republishing or distributing it.”
The document, which lays out the alleged murderer’s views, was posted on various social media platforms, and was also sent to media outlets and the office of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern minutes before the attack began.
Shanks told members of the public to delete any copies of the document, along with posts or links to it.
Authorities have also banned video of the fatal shootings, including edited footage and still images.
Ardern on Monday last week announced a ban on firearms that extends to related parts used to convert guns into MSSAs and all high-capacity magazines.
Police say they are receiving hundreds of calls a day about the ban with more than 1,000 people registering to hand their firearms in. They included Labour Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis, who surrendered a semi-automatic .22 rifle to police.
The total number of firearms in New Zealand is estimated to be about 1.2 million to 1.5 million for a country with 245,000 firearms licences. There are at least 15,000 military-style semi-automatics registered in New Zealand, according to police figures.
The government has also put in place a gun buyback scheme.
Tens of thousands of people attended a vigil in Christchurch’s Hagley Park yesterday evening to remember those who lost their lives. It featured prayers from the local imam, as well as songs and haka.
One of those watching from a wheelchair was 21-year-old Mustafa Boztas, who was shot in the leg and liver during the attack at the al-Noor Mosque.
Boztas said it was beautiful to see what the community had put together to show they care and that “we are all one.”
Officials estimate up to 40,000 people attended the event, held on a stage that had been set up for a concert by Canadian singer Bryan Adams that was canceled after the attacks.
Meanwhile, the opposition National party leader Simon Bridges has called for a royal commission into New Zealand’s security and intelligence agencies.
“A royal commission is the only suitable level of inquiry to ensure this is investigated thoroughly and independently. We need to understand whether this could have been prevented. It will need to ask hard questions about whether our security and intelligence agencies had their focus in the right places,” Bridges said.
“Our security risk has now changed and New Zealanders need to be kept safe. The royal commission should look at the past, and parliament should get on with actions for the future,” he said.
A national remembrance service for the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack, and all those affected by it, is to be held at 10am on Friday, Ardern announced yesterday.
The service is to be held in Christchurch in Hagley Park and would be jointly led by the government, the city of Christchurch, Ngai Tahu — the principal Maori people of southern New Zealand — and the Muslim community.
Considerations are being given to simultaneously broadcasting the service to events in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin and providing links for events in other towns and cities.
“The national remembrance service provides an opportunity for Cantabrians, New Zealanders and people all around the world to come together as one to honor the victims of the terrorist attack,” Ardern said. “In the week since the unprecedented terror attack there has been an outpouring of grief and love in our country. The service will be a chance to once again show that New Zealanders are compassionate, inclusive and diverse, and that we will protect those values.”
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