Mosque attacks spark outrage, fuel concern over Islamophobia

People gather at a vigil to mourn for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, at Washington Square Park in Manhattan, in New York City, New York, U.S. March 15, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 March 2019
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Mosque attacks spark outrage, fuel concern over Islamophobia

  • London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the city’s Metropolitan Police force would be visible outside mosques
  • One man was arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a carefully planned racist attack

BRUSSELS: World leaders expressed condolences and condemnation Friday following the deadly attacks on mosques in New Zealand, while Muslim leaders said the mass shooting was evidence of a rising tide of violent Islamophobia.
In a tweet, US President Donald Trump sent “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand.
He wrote that “49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The US stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!“
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attacks the “latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.”
New Zealand police said at least 49 people were killed Friday at two mosques in the picturesque South Island city of Christchurch. More than 20 were seriously wounded in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a “terrorist attack.”
One man was arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a carefully planned racist attack. Police also defused explosive devices in a car. Two other people were being held in custody and police were trying to determine how they might be involved.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan echoed those sentiments.
“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam & 1.3 bn Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim,” he tweeted.
The secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Youssef Al-Othaimeen, said in a statement that the attack “served as a further warning on the obvious dangers of hate, intolerance, and Islamophobia.”
In France, home to western Europe’s largest Muslim community, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner ordered regional authorities to bolster security at mosques as a precaution.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the city’s Metropolitan Police force would be visible outside mosques.
“London stands with the people of Christchurch in the face of this horrific terror attack,” he said. “London will always celebrate the diversity that some seek to destroy.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City is providing extra security for Muslim community centers and mosques. He said he wants the city’s Muslims to know that New Yorkers “truly embrace” them and “have their backs.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians are appalled by the attack and said they remember all too well the sorrow after a Canadian man shot dead six Muslim men in a Quebec mosque in 2017.
“Far too often, Muslims suffer unimaginable loss and pain in the places where they should feel safest,” Trudeau said in a statement. “To move forward as a world, we need to recognize diversity as a source of strength, and not a threat.”
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo condemned the attacks, in which an Indonesian father and son were among those wounded. Indonesian Muslim leaders expressed anger at the shooting rampage while urging Muslims to show restraint.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said bigotry in Western countries contributed to the attacks on Muslims in New Zealand. In a Friday tweet, he also criticized the West for “defending demonization of Muslims as ‘freedom of expression.’”
Afghanistan’s Taliban movement also condemned the shooting rampage, calling it an “unforgivable crime.”
Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yusuf called on the New Zealand government to investigate “the root cause of such terrorism and hand a hefty punishment to the attackers.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attacks a “brazen act of terror.” His office said on Twitter that Israel mourns the murder of innocent worshippers, condemns the assault and sends its condolences to bereaved families.
Jordan’s King Abdullah tweeted that “the heinous massacre against Muslims praying in peace in New Zealand is an appalling terrorist crime. It unites us against extremism, hatred and terrorism, which knows no religion.” Jordan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that one Jordanian was killed and five wounded in the attack.


Wisconsin man who kidnapped Jayme Closs gets life in prison

In this March 27, 2019, file photo, Jake Patterson appears for a hearing at the Barron County Justice Center, in Barron, Wis. (AP)
Updated 46 min 7 sec ago
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Wisconsin man who kidnapped Jayme Closs gets life in prison

  • Details of Jayme’s time in captivity have not been released, and no charges were brought by prosecutors in the county where she was held

BARRON, Wisconsin: A Wisconsin man was sentenced Friday to life in prison for kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents after the girl told the judge she that wanted him “locked up forever” for trying to steal her.
Jake Patterson, 21, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. He admitted he broke into Jayme’s home in October, gunned down her parents, James and Denise Closs, made off with her and held her under a bed in his remote cabin for 88 days before she made a daring escape.
Jayme didn’t appear at Patterson’s sentencing hearing Friday, but a family attorney read her first public statements about her ordeal to Judge James Babler.
“He thought that he could own me but he was wrong. I was smarter,” the statement said. “I was brave and he was not. ... He thought he could make me like him, but he was wrong. ... For 88 days he tried to steal me and he didn’t care who he hurt or who he killed to do that. He should be locked up forever.”
The judge called Patterson the “embodiment of evil” before sentencing him to consecutive life sentences without the possibility of release on the homicide charges. He also ordered Patterson to serve 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision on the kidnapping count.
“There’s no doubt in my mind you’re one of the most dangerous men to ever walk on this planet,” Babler said.
Patterson sat shaking his head during most of the hearing. Offered a chance to speak, he said he would do anything to take back what he did.
“I would die,” he said. “I would do absolutely anything ... to bring them back. I don’t care about me. I’m just so sorry. That’s all.”
The judge read statements that Patterson wrote in jail in which he said he had succumbed to fantasies about keeping a young girl and torturing and controlling her. He started looking for an opportunity to kidnap someone, even deciding he might want to take multiple girls and kill multiple families, according to the statements. Jayme was the first girl he saw after these thoughts entered his mind, he said.
Patterson’s attorneys, Richard Jones and Charles Glynn, told the judge that Patterson was isolated and that he overreacted to loneliness. They asked for leniency for Patterson, noting that he had pleaded guilty to spare Jayme and her family from a trial.
According to a criminal complaint, Patterson was driving to work in October when he spotted Jayme getting on a school bus near her rural home outside Barron, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Minneapolis. He decided then that “she was the girl he was going to take.”
District Attorney Brian Wright told the judge that Patterson traveled to the Closs home on two separate occasions to kidnap her but turned back because of activity at her house.
He finally drove to the house during the early morning hours of Oct. 15 dressed in black and carrying his father’s shotgun. He shot James Closs through a window in the front door, blasted the lock and moved inside.
He found the bathroom door locked. He broke the door down and discovered Jayme and her mother clinging to each other in the bathtub. He tied Jayme up with tape, then shot Denise Closs in the head as she sat next to her daughter.
He dragged Jayme through her father’s blood and out to his car. He threw her in the trunk and drove her to his cabin in Gordon in Douglas County, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northeast of Barron.
He kept her trapped under a bed using totes filled with weights and hit her with a curtain rod, Wright said.
“He kept her in constant fear, threatening her, telling her things would get worse,” Wright said.
Jayme finally escaped on Jan. 10 while Patterson was away. She flagged down a neighbor, who found someone to call police. Patterson was arrested minutes later as he returned to the cabin.
Patterson was also ordered to register as a sex offender, which under Wisconsin law may be required both for an actual sex offense or an attempted sexual offense. Details of Jayme’s time in captivity have not been released, and no charges were brought by prosecutors in the county where she was held.