New threats directed at mosque being investigated

New threats have been made online against the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch that was the target of a mass shooting nearly a year ago.

While online attacks on Muslims have continued since the massacre I think this latest threat is more likely to strengthen defence and support of Muslims in New Zealand.

Stuff:  Worshippers at the Al Noor mosque photographed in terror threat

Members of Christchurch’s Al Noor mosque have increased their security measures following an apparent terror threat, two weeks before the first anniversary of the March 15 attack in which 51 worshippers were gunned down.

The threat was issued on Sunday night on an encrypted messaging app, accompanied by a photo of a masked man sitting in a car outside the mosque.

A police spokeswoman has confirmed an investigation into the threat is under way.

The threat and accompanying photo was posted anonymously to more than 2000 followers on a messaging channel on the encrypted communication app Telegram.

The image shows a man wearing dark sunglasses and a balaclava printed with an image of a human skull. Through a car window the front of the Al Noor mosque can be seen.

In the background, four people are visible at the entrance of the mosque.

The message attached, written in both English and Russian, implies the people at the “same mosque” would be greeting each other for the “last time”. A gun emoji, or symbol, is also used in the message.

The image was posted on a messaging channel dedicated to celebrating the March 15 terror attack.

A very small minority involved, but this is still insidious.

RNZ: Muslims on high alert after report of threat against Christchurch mosque

On Sunday, members of the Al Noor Mosque were the subject of a reported terror threat, which police are investigating.

The Islamic Women’s Council’s national co-ordinator, Anjum Rahman, said the threat was the fourth she was aware of since the attacks.

“We have been talking to authorities for some months, since last year, definitely, about preparations coming into 15 March,” Rahman said.

“Absolutely, we were expecting this and possibly worse things.”

Rahman said racist and xenophobic extremists were emboldened by the 15 March attack.

“There were two things that happened after the mosque attacks,” she said.

“The first was that huge outpouring of solidarity and support, but the other thing that happened at the same time was that people that were that way inclined felt emboldened and strengthened and more connected.

“The negative and hateful commentary online has not stopped, and I believe it influences the way these people think.”

She said the current political environment meant that people “who aren’t the targets of these kinds of threats have a louder voice than those who are vulnerable to them”.

It’s not just anonymous online extremists being called out.

Newsroom: Jones’ attacks on Indian students a timely reminder

It is extraordinary that as we approach the one-year anniversary of a devastating terror attack at two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist, a senior politician has directed an inflammatory broadside against the Indian student community in New Zealand.

Shane Jones, the New Zealand First Minister for Infrastructure, Forestry and Regional Economic Development in the Labour-led Coalition Government, said on Saturday New Zealand’s current immigration policy is “unfettered” and specifically attacked students from India who, in his view, “have ruined many of those [academic] institutions” they have attended in this country.

While this is not the first time prominent figures have resorted to xenophobic dog whistle politics in an election year, the Christchurch atrocity highlighted the very real dangers of allowing such narratives to go unchallenged.

But Jones’ comments on Saturday are a reminder that some New Zealand politicians still do not recognise that the battle against extremism after Christchurch begins at home and that there is a responsibility to refrain from words and actions that encourage intolerance, exclusion and even violence.

In this context, not only are Jones’ words racist and inflammatory, they are also wrong. It is important to emphasise that there is no evidence whatsoever to support his specific allegations regarding Indian students, or other groups of international students more generally.

That was written by Professor Harlene Hayne, Vice-Chancellor and Robert Patman, a Professor of International Relations, both from the University of Otago.

Prime Minister Ardern has ‘reprimanded’ Jones but he seems unrepentant, saying he has a mandate from NZ First to ‘contually speak’ about immigration – see Ardern says Jones was loose and wrong, but Jones unrepentant.

Police say they expect to take action over the person or people involved in the latest threats made against Al Noor mosque.