Iran's President Rouhani calls for all-out fight against Islamophobia in West amid NZ attack

Iran's President Rouhani calls for all-out fight against Islamophobia in West amid NZ attack

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Friday massacre of Muslim people in New Zealand once again highlighted the need for an all-out international fight against Islamophobia fueled by certain Western governments.

In a Friday message, the Iranian president condemned the “terrorist and racist” attack on Muslim worshippers, and described the massacre as a “barbaric and painful” incident which broke the hearts of all Muslim people in the world, especially the Iranian nation.

At least one gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 40 during Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques in the country's worst ever mass shooting, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned as terrorism.

“This barbaric crime, which resulted in the martyrdom and injury of a number of innocent and defenseless worshippers, is another proof of the need for an all-out fight against terrorism and hate-mongering toward other religions and ethnic groups, and the Islamophobia which is common in the West, and unfortunately fueled by certain Western governments,” Rouhani said in his message.

“This crime indicated that terrorism is still among the important issues of the world, and needs an integrated fight and a united approach by all countries against violence and extremism in any part of the world,” he noted.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is still committed to decisive fight against terrorism and racism, and is sure that, thanks to the unity and solidarity of Muslim people, such blind and aimless plots by the enemies would result in nothing but further disgrace for them,” he added.

Rouhani also called on the international community, particularly Muslim states, to show serious reaction to these anti-human crimes, and “disgrace the overt and covert sponsors of such moves.”

The Australian gunman behind the massacre, identified as Brenton Tarrant, broadcast live footage on Facebook of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch, mirroring the carnage played out in video games, after publishing a "manifesto" in which he denounced immigrants, calling them "invaders".

In his manifesto, Tarrant said he saw US President Donald Trump as “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

In a Friday tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also cited Trump’s Islamophobic remarks, and said the New Zealand attack was a result of “Western hypocrisy of defending demonization of Muslims as ‘freedom of expression’.”

“Impunity in Western 'democracies' to promote bigotry leads to this: Israeli thugs enter mosque in Palestine to insult Muslims; terrorists in NZ livestream their murder of 49 Muslims. Western hypocrisy of defending demonization of Muslims as 'freedom of expression' MUST end,” he said.

Trump urged to condemn New Zealand attack

Despite being known as the source of inspiration for the white supremacist behind the terror attack, Trump has so far refused to denounce the carnage.

Hours after the attack, Trump offered his “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand, and said the people died “so senselessly.” He also noted that his country stands by New Zealand for anything it can do.

In a later tweet, he said he had a phone conversation with Prime Minister Ardern, during which he once again expressed Washington’s solidarity with Wellington, “and that any assistance the USA can give, we stand by ready to help.”

“We love you New Zealand!” he added.

In reaction, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Trump to condemn the shootings as a white supremacist terrorist attack.

CAIR, the largest Muslim advocacy organization in the US, warned against blaming any one person for the shooter’s actions, but pointed to research showing a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment since Trump was elected.

CAIR National Executive Director Nihad said Trump needs to assure Muslims that they are protected and that he will not tolerate violence against their community.

“Mr. Trump, your words matter. Your policies matter. They impact the lives of innocent people at home and globally,” Awad said at a news conference Friday.

'Iranians not surprised'

In another tweet on Friday, the Iranian foreign minister denounced Western states for promoting bigotry against Islam and Muslim people, citing Trump's Muslim ban and France's move to ban Muslim students from wearing Islamic headscarves.

"Iranians are deeply shocked and saddened by Christchurch terror today. But we're not surprised. Banned from travel to the US, and not allowed to abide by our faith if attending French schools, we Iranians know too well what bigotry and hatred of Islam augur. #EndIslamophobiaNow," Zarif said.

‘Unprofessional media coverage’

In his Friday message, the Iranian president lashed out at certain Western mainstream media for their “unprofessional” and “inhumane” coverage of the terrorist attack, and described it as another proof of their racist attitude and double-standard policies even towards the lives of human beings.

Earlier in the day, Iranian ambassador to London Hamid Baeidinejad had slammed the Persian service of BBC for refusing to use the term “terrorist attack” in reference to the New Zealand slaughter.

“In BBC Persian’s view, there is only one criterion for describing an attack as a ‘terrorist’ one, and that’s when referring to attacks carried out against the UK; therefore, a knife crime in London is called a ‘terrorist attack’, but the massacre in New Zealand is just an ‘attack’,” he said in a tweet.

The same criticism had been leveled against the British Broadcasting Corporation when it refused to use the term “terrorist attack” in reporting the Daesh and separatists’ terror attacks on Iran.

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