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Christchurch massacre: New Zealand PM Ardern urges debate over racism

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for more discussions to the divisive issue of racism, two years after scores of Muslims were killed and injured in a mass shooting that target two mosques.

Speaking to reporters in Wellington on Monday as mourners gathered in Christchurch at a memorial marking the second anniversary of the attacks on Muslim worshipers, Ardern, who hails from the Kiwis’ Labor Party, said “there is still work to be done”.

“Two years ago today 51 New Zealanders lives were taken in the March 15 mosque attack. Our thoughts continue to be with the victims, injured survivors, families and all those affected by the events of that day. I know we’re all committed to ensuring such an attack never happens on our soil again, and for our part, that’s why we have put in place an extensive program of work to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attack,” she said.

“Members of our Muslim community were experiencing some pretty horrific racism before that attack here in their own communities” she added.

“The world needs to have these conversations,” Ardern said.

“In the aftermath of the attack it was incumbent on New Zealand to get its house in order,” Ardern pointed out, adding that it was not fair to say that because the terrorist came from Australia, that New Zealand didn’t have a responsibility.

Ardern said every global leader has a responsibility as their voice can be broadcast anywhere, at any time. “Countries need to take that into account,” she noted.

Ardern had previously apologized on behalf of law enforcement agencies and security officials, who before the Christchurch attacks had been focused exclusively on the possibility of threats posed by ‘Islamic extremist groups.

The gunman, self-proclaimed white supremacist Australian Brenton Tarrant, 30, killed and injured a large number of Muslim worshippers praying at Al Noor and Linwood mosques, while streaming the brutal killings on Facebook.

Tarrant was sentenced last year to life in prison, without parole, for 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one of terrorism. Before the attacks, he had released a manifesto emphasizing the supremacy of the White race over other races.

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