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Christchurch imam says NZ attack report a 'model for the world to follow'

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has apologised for government failings identified in the report. Source: AAP

The imam of the Masjid Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch is confident the recommendations of an inquiry into the 2019 terror attack which decimated his community can be used by other nations as a “model” of how communities can come together.

Masjid Al-Noor mosque imam Gamal Fouda has welcomed a 792-page report released by the New Zealand government on Tuesday, which detailed numerous failings by the country's intelligence services to appropriately investigate the threat of right-wing extremism prior to the March 2019 terror attack.

Made public after 18 months of work which probed the actions of government agencies in the lead-up to the attack, the report made 44 recommendations, including the need for reforms to hate speech laws, changes to firearms licensing, and the creation of a new national security and intelligence agency.

It also recommended the appointment of a new counter-terrorism minister and additional funding for research into extremism in New Zealand.  

On Tuesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered an apology for failings identified by the report, a move commended by Mr Fouda who survived the attack which claimed 51 Muslim worshippers.  

Archive photo of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Imam Gamal Fouda.
AP Photo/Mark Baker

Mr Fouda was delivering his Friday speech, or Khutbah, when the attack began at his mosque.

He said in making the recommendations, New Zealand has “Given the world a new model in how the society can come together, and how people love each other”. 

“With this report and the apology from the prime minister, the police, and the intelligence community, New Zealand will prove this model can work. 

“This new model sends a message to everyone who uses Islam and Muslims as a Trojan horse to serve their own social and political agenda. 

“The Muslim community in New Zealand as well offered an example full of love and peace, and together we realise that differences can be uniting and not divisive.”

Ms Ardern apologised for the "disproportionate scrutiny" placed on the Muslim community prior to the attack. 

"For many years the Muslim community has raised concerns about the disproportionate scrutiny. The report confirms that there was inappropriate concentration of resources," she said. 

"The commission made no findings that these issues would have stopped the attack. But these were failings nonetheless, and for that, on behalf of the government, I apologise."

Mr Fouda called on all New Zealanders to see Ms Ardern as an example of unity. 

“We love this country and we trust that the people and the government together are able to make these changes happen. 

We hope a partnership will happen between the people and the government and all the agencies that will create a model of partnership for the entire world to follow.

“I call everyone who accuses Muslims and Islam to take Ardern as an example, to look at how the government got everyone under the umbrella of the nationality we all hold.”

Among the countries that Mr Fouda believes can benefit from the report was France, which has seen tensions rise between the Muslim community and the Macron government over a broad clampdown on radical Islam.

“I call on the French president to see what New Zealand has done, these people in the community are citizens whether it is in New Zealand or in France," he said. 

“There must be a respect for law and human rights, and all of us should be aiming to live together in peace and harmony."

New Zealand's Minister of Security Intelligence Services, Andrew Little, will be appointed to oversee the implementation of the recommendations, Ms Ardern announced.

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