Right-Wing Senator Blames Muslims, Suspect Arrested in New Zealand Massacre

A right-wing Australian senator on Friday said Muslim immigrants were the “real cause of bloodshed” following a shooting at two mosques that killed 49 people in New Zealand. A 28 year-old Australian man was arrested as the primary suspect in the terrorist attack.

“I am utterly opposed to any form of violence within our community, and I totally condemn the actions of the gunman,” Queensland Sen. Fraser Anning wrote in a statement.

“However, whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence.”

“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

Anning, a far-right independent senator from Queensland, said Muslims “may have been the victims today; usually they are the perpetrators.”

“The truth is that Islam is not like any other faith,” Anning wrote. “It is the religious equivalent of fascism. And just because the followers of this savage belief were not the killers in this instance, does not make them blameless.”

The senator’s remarks come after at least 49 people were killed and more than 40 others seriously injured in New Zealand after at least one gunman opened fire at two mosques in downtown Christchurch.

Arrested Suspect Had Praised Donald Trump

The suspect in the mosques’ attack has been arrested. He had previously praised Donald Trump in a written manifesto. He also called the U.S. president “a symbol of renewed white identity.”

The man who claimed to have committed the mass murder left a lengthy anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained his reasoning. Videos and photos on his social media page that appeared to have been taken live during the attack were shared on social media before being taken down.

In the online manifesto, the suspect declared himself to be a 28-year-old Australian radicalized online by right-wing influences amid pages of rhetoric against Muslims and other minorities. He praised not only Donald Trump but also Anders Breivik, the Norwegian white supremacist who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison quickly condemned Anning’s remarks on Twitter.  

“The remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting. Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament,” Morrison wrote.