"We Hold you Responsible," U.S. Islam Advocate Tells Trump After New Zealand Mosque Attacks

Last Friday, at least 49 people were killed and more than 40 others wounded in the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history. The Australian-born terrorist, Brenton Tarrant, 28, opened indiscriminate fire at Muslim worshippers who were congregated for Friday prayers. The two mosques targeted in the attacks were the Masjid Al Noor in central Christchurch and another place of worship in the suburb of Linwood.

Before the attack, Tarrant published a manifesto glorifying Donald Trump and a Norwegian white supremacist who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011. 74 pages in total, the manifesto has been described by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a "work of hate," which hailed Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose."

Nihad Awad, Executive Director of Council American-Islamic relations condemned the New Zealand attack, and called out President Trump, saying, ''Mr. Trump, your words matter. Your policies matter.”

“They impact the lives of innocent people at home and globally. You should condemn this, not only as a hate crime, but as a white-supremacist terrorist attack,” Awad said. “We hold you responsible for this growing anti-Muslim sentiment.”

Speaking at the White House on Friday, President Trump offered condolences and expressed support for New Zealand in the wake of the shooting.

“The United States is with them all the way," Trump said. "New Zealand has been a great friend and partner for many years. Our relationship has never been better, and what they’re going through is absolutely terrible. Our hearts are with them and whatever we can do."

Trump did not acknowledge the faith of the victims directly, nor did he refer to the terror attack as an act of Islamophobia or as motivated by white-supremacism.

After the mass shooting, reporters from Al Jazeera went to a Friday prayer at the Islamic center in Washington DC, the oldest Islamic house of worship in the city, to talk to American Muslims. One young Muslim woman, Amirah Nasir, said, “There is definitely a sense of paranoia that comes with this Islamophobia rhetoric that exists, especially coming from the White House.”

“That’s why it’s so important to build community and build that trust,” Nasir said. “Get to know your neighbors and spread love, and just see that there’s so much more similarities than there are differences across the board.”

Brenton Tarrant appeared in a Christchurch District Court on Saturday, and was charged with murder. He was remanded without a plea until his next appearance in the South Island city's High Court on April 5. Two other suspects have been taken into custody while the police determine what role, if any, they had in this deadly attack.