Press Release No: 19/04
15 March 2019
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) has received with shock the news about Christchurch (New Zealand) mosque shootings that left over forty dead on 15 March. CEC denounces this attack on our Muslim sisters and brothers and deplores all forms of Islamophobia.
“Our prayers are with the victims, their families and their communities, and all the people of Christchurch in New Zealand,” said CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen.
“Although this terrorist act and senseless tragedy took place on the other side of the globe, it comes very close to European hearts and minds. We must recognise it for what it is – terrorism against respect and conviviality among people with different religious and ethnic identities, living together in a society that is a common home to all of them,” he added
“Inexplicably, this bloodbath was perpetrated in one of the safest and most stable societies, in Aotearoa-New Zealand, where real efforts have been undertaken for reconciliation with the country’s colonial past and among its component ethnic groups.”
“In view of the upcoming EU elections, as churches we must strengthen our message and efforts for core European values, in particular human dignity, equality, the rule of law and the freedom of religion or belief. A particularly important thing is to curb and counter hate speech, which may inspire such acts of terror as this one. When the heart of people’s religious observance – prayer in community – is horrendously attacked, we must respond with our deepest conviction and determination for peace. As we mourn the loss and the suffering, we must be strengthened in our will to build a society and a world which is safe and welcoming to all people. We must move beyond tolerance towards all-embracing love,” said Fr Heikki.
CEC is deeply committed to promoting human rights, human dignity, freedom of religion and protection of holy sites and worship places in Europe, the Middle East, and beyond.
For more information or an interview, please contact:
Dr Erin Green
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 2 234 68 42
Fax +32 2 231 14 13