At­tacks ‘end of our in­no­cence’

The Press - - News - Am­ber-Leigh Woolf and Tom Hunt

New Zealand has be­come a very dif­fer­ent place since the Christchurch terror at­tacks one month ago but po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural lead­ers say there’s more change to come.

The coun­try’s leg­is­la­tion, me­dia, sense of se­cu­rity, and iden­tity have all been al­tered since the shoot­ings at two mosques on March 15, where 50 peo­ple were killed and dozens in­jured.

New gun laws have been fast-tracked through Par­lia­ment, and so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies have been scru­ti­nised for the role they played in dis­sem­i­nat­ing a video of the at­tack. On­line cen­sor­ship and hate speech are also be­ing closely ex­am­ined, with me­dia out­lets choos­ing to limit cover­age of the shoot­ing sus­pect.

For­mer prime min­is­ter Sir Ge­of­frey Palmer said it was un­usual for ma­jor leg­is­la­tion such as the gun laws to pass so quickly.

But the tragic na­ture of the at­tack had al­lowed that to hap­pen.

‘‘This was an enor­mous event and it does change New Zealand for­ever,’’ Palmer said.

‘‘It is the end of our in­no­cence in some ways.’’ Rules around so­cial me­dia would al­most cer­tainly change, he said.

New Zealand Coun­cil for Civil Lib­er­ties spokesman Thomas Bea­gle said one month on, New Zealand was yet to see any sig­nif­i­cant changes to civil lib­er­ties.

But changes around on­line cen­sor­ship and hate speech had been sig­nalled.

Bea­gle said New Zealand was yet to reach the fork in the road be­tween opt­ing for ‘‘bad law’’, which would neg­a­tively im­pact civil lib­er­ties, and ‘‘good law’’, which wouldn’t.

Massey Univer­sity se­nior lec­turer in his­tory and re­li­gious stud­ies Dr Christo­pher van der Krogt said Ki­wis were now notic­ing the Mus­lim peo­ple in their com­mu­ni­ties, whereas they might not have be­fore. ‘‘This group of peo­ple, who most us weren’t tak­ing much no­tice of, have be­come vic­tims on a mas­sive scale and sud­denly, they need our sup­port.’’

New Zealand needed to be more un­der­stand­ing of the Mus­lim com­mu­nity, and other re­li­gions and cul­tures, in the fu­ture.

Van der Krogt hoped the events would pro­vide an in­cen­tive to add to the school cur­ricu­lum. ‘‘What needs to hap­pen is that sym­pa­thy leads to a greater un­der­stand­ing.’’

Massey Univer­sity se­nior lec­turer in jour­nal­ism Dr Cathy Strong said that for the first time, me­dia had cho­sen to keep the ac­cused off the front page of news­pa­pers and web­pages.

A spokesper­son for the In­ter­na­tional Mus­lim As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand said the coun­try had changed for­ever.

The Kil­birnie Mosque was hold­ing an open day on April 27 to thank the com­mu­nity for their sym­pa­thy and com­pas­sion.

Peo­ple out­side of the Mus­lim com­mu­nity were show­ing an in­ter­est in at­tend­ing a public fo­rum at the mosque to ex­press their views on how to move for­ward, he said.

For­mer Labour MP Maryan Street said New Zealan­ders had be­come more aware of their plu­ral­ist and mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety.

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