- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been widely praised for her response to the Christchurch mosque attacks.
- Within just a few hours of the shootings, Ardern held a press conference, condemning the plotters as “extremists” who “have absolutely no place in New Zealand.”
- Many also lauded her decision to wear a hijab to meet with Muslim leaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
- Photos of a clearly emotional Ardern meeting with the Muslim community quickly went viral.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her response to the Christchurch mosque attacks that have left 50 dead in the ordinarily peaceful country.
Within just a few hours of the attacks happening on Friday,Ardern addressed the nation and condemned those responsible, calling them “extremists” who “have absolutely no place in New Zealand.”
The following day, she flew to Christchurch to meet with Muslim leaders, and instead of running the show, she let the leaders choose how she spent her time there, saying, “Our time is for you to determine.”
Iranian-American journalist and commentator Negar Mortazavi praised Ardern for wearing a headscarf, which she said was “a sign of respect” to the grieving Muslim community.
Many shared a photo of a clearly emotional Ardern staring out a window as she held these meetings. The photographer, Kirk Hargreaves, told the Sydney Morning Herald that he knew it would be an important image as soon as he took it.
“The human empathy and all those amazing human traits she’s showing in the picture, I’m glad people resonated with that,” he told the newspaper.
Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., was one of the many to share the photo on Twitter, writing that Ardern “reflects the type of sincere, people-oriented leadership that the world needs to evolve from its current chaotic state.”
Also making the rounds on social media was a video of Ardern addressing the families of the victims, telling them that the country is “united in grief.”
Matthew Dowd, ABC News’ chief political analyst, said he was “struck” by the language that Ardern used on the trip.
I’m getting emotional watching this b/c it seems like eternity since we saw a public servant respond to tragedy with such sincere compassion & love
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) March 17, 2019
“She doesn’t use words of vengeance, or retribution, or hate against the evil of what happened. She uses words of love and compassion to those in pain,” Dowd tweeted on Monday.
Ardern’s trip to Christchurch also earned her respect from other leaders around the world, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
“When @JacdinaArdern came to City Hall last year, we talked passionately about the importance of inclusivity and equality in society. Acts like this shock to the core our open and diverse countries and I know Londoners stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Christchurch,” Khan tweeted on Saturday.
Many were also impressed by Ardern’s statement on Sunday that the country would pay for the funerals of the victims. New Zealand offers these grants to the victims of accidental deaths all the time, but Ardern wanted the Christchurch survivors to know that they would be getting the grants regardless of their immigration status.
This is incredible. New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has said that the government will help cover funeral costs – as well as provide financial support (for up to years) for those who will now suffer a loss of income due to the #ChristChurchMassacre https://t.co/mXsVBFmUNq pic.twitter.com/ON9OwhtryT
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) March 16, 2019
Since returning to Wellington, Ardern’s focus has been on changing the country’s gun laws to prevent another similar attack. Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Monday, Ardern said the attacks exposed a weakness in the country’s gun laws and that reforms would be announced “within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism.”
Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, tweeted Saturday that Ardern’s swift vow for gun control reform shows is exactly what governments “are supposed to do.”
What governments are supposed to do: a major problem is identified, reforms are proposed: "our gun laws will change” – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern https://t.co/6mBosqtpOu
— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) March 17, 2019
- Read more:
- New Zealand’s prime minister was sent the mosque shooter’s manifesto just minutes before the massacre
- The death toll from the New Zealand mosque attacks has risen to 50
- ‘We stand with our Kiwi friends’: People around the world offer their support after New Zealand terrorist attack
- A man is being hailed as a hero for facing off with the Christchurch mosque gunman and likely saving lives
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