New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her leadership in the wake of the horror that has gripped Christchurch following a terrorist attack that killed 49 people.
A gunman opened fire at two mosques in the city and planted explosive devices in two vehicles, before being arrested by police along with two associates.
Dozens are dead and scores are seriously injured, in what Ms. Ardern described as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
The prime minister’s staunch rejection of the “extremist ideology” behind the attacks, which she said had “no place in New Zealand society”, was applauded by those watching events unfold from around the world.
Ms. Ardern said New Zealanders were not chosen for this act of terror because they condone racism but rather that they represent diversity, kindness, compassion and a refuge for those who need it.
“And those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack,” she said.
“You may have chosen us, but we utterly reject and condemn you.”
Those values shared by Kiwis meant there would be “the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology”, Ms. Ardern said.
“Many of those directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here.
“They have chosen to make New Zealand their home. It is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetrated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand.
“There is no place in New Zealand for such extreme and unprecedented acts of violence.”
Ms. Ardern said the attacks on people in places of worship was abhorrent.
“It happened in a place where people should’ve been expressing their religious freedom, where they should’ve been safe,” she said.
“The people subject to this attack today, New Zealand is their home. They should be safe here.”
Ms. Ardern has been praised on social media for her response to the attacks, briefing the nation on developments in between attending briefings with security agencies.
“On an utterly devastating day, the tiniest ray of light in our prime minister’s words,” writer Rajorshi Chakraborti said.
Australian media commentator Jamila Rizvi said: “If more politicians had her particular combination of intelligence, strength, clear-sightedness, and empathy, we’d inhabit a better world.”
A Kiwi known as Clementine also Tweeted: “Listening to Jacinda Ardern is comforting in a way I didn’t know I could be comforted by a politician. She condemns the ideology of those behind the terror attack and upholds our compassion.”