The Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand was one of two mosques targeted in a terrorist attack that resulted in the massacre of 50 people dead on March 15, 2019.
The gunman, named as an Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant, was livestreaming to Facebook as he walked into the mosque and shot people at random. His social media page also included a lengthy manifesto in which he raged about “mass immigration” and how he felt white people of European descent were under siege. Click here to read more about Tarrant and his background. You’ll find more information on his manifesto, which reveals clues as to why he carried out the heinous massacre, here.
The Masjid Al Noor mosque has been described as one of the oldest in New Zealand. Christchurch has a history of welcoming refugees and migrants and the mosque has been described as a refuge for community members.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Masjid Al Noor Mosque is the Largest in Christchurch & One of the Oldest in New Zealand
The Masjid Al Noor Mosque has been described as the largest in Christchurch, according to TVNZ’s 1 News Now, a state-owned television network in New Zealand. The site also describes the mosque as one of the oldest in New Zealand.
The Masjid Al Noor Mosque has been in Christchurch since at least 1977. The Muslim Association of Canterbury, a non-profit organization in New Zealand, states on its website that it has been operating in Christchurch since that year. The site does not explicitly state exactly when the mosque was built.
The organization claims that the first practicing Muslims arrived in New Zealand from China in the 1870s. But their numbers remained very small for the next century; the website claims there were only about 150 Muslim in the country by 1950. But the population began to grow in the 1970s as more Indo-Fijians migrants moved to New Zealand, and migrants from Somalia and the Middle East immigrated in thr 1990s.
2. Christchurch is a Designated ‘Refugee Settlement Location’ of New Zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand has a history of welcoming refugees and migrants to join the community. New Zealand currently accepts 1,000 refugees per year. The country will accept up to 1,500 refugees annually beginning in July of 2020. According to the New Zealand Immigration office, 250 of those refugees in 2018 were from Syria.
It was announced in August of 2018 that the city of Christchurch would be reinstated as a “refugee settlement location.” It was taken off the list in 2010 following a massive earthquake.
The Minister for Workplace Relations, Immigration, and ACC, Iain Galloway, wrote in a news release in 2018 about the significance of Christchurch being able to once again accept refugees.
“It’s great news for refugees, New Zealand and Christchurch itself to be re-established as a refugee settlement location. It shows the city is once again able to welcome some of the world’s vulnerable people and let them be part of a fantastic place to live.
There is an extraordinary number of people around the world who need refuge and New Zealand is determined to play its part. Today will go some way to help us achieve lifting our refugee quota to 1500 per year in this term of Government.”
Galloway added that about 20 refugees from Afghanistan and Eritrea in east Africa had been expected to arrive in Christchurch by March of 2019.
3. The Mosque is Located Near Hagley Park in Central Christchurch
The Masjid Al Noor Mosque is located in the central part of Christchurch on Deans Avenue.
It is directly across the street from Hagley Park, which is described on the city website as being “at the heart of Christchurch since the 1850s.”
Christchurch is on the east coast of New Zealand. It has a population of approximately 388,000 people, according to the Christchurch City Council.
4. Christchurch, New Zealand Has Become More Ethnically Diverse in Recent Years
The Christchurch City Council keeps detailed information about the area’s demographics on its website. As of 2013, people of European descent made up approximately 85 percent of the city’s population. This percentage is projected to decrease to 76 percent by 2038.
Families of Asian descent currently account for about 10 percent of Christchurch’s population. The City Council expects this group’s population to double by 2038.
The third largest ethnic group is Christchurch is the Maori population. They are descended from the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. The Maoris make up about 9 percent of the city’s population currently and are expected to grow to 12 percent by 2038.
5. The New Zealand Police Set Up a Website To Help Families Reconnect After the Shooting
The New Zealand Police department is working to make sure families and friends reconnect following the terror attack on the two mosques. They have activated a Restoring Family Links (RFL) website. Survivors can mark themselves down as being safe, and others can register missing persons. You can visit the website here.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the massacre on social media and in interviewed following the horrifying attack. She stated in part, “What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us. The person who has committed this violent act has no place here.”