A threat made against a Hamilton mosque, set to be coincidentally carried out on the same day as last year’s Christchurch terrorist attacks, is a key part of a critical submission to the Royal Commission looking into the deaths.
New Zealand Muslims say the Government had years to tackle growing Islamophobia before the Christchurch attacks that killed 51 people and left many others seriously injured.
The prominent Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand has released its almost 130-page submission it gave to the Royal Commission, which is seeing if state agencies knew and did enough.
The council says it “made intense efforts” to engage with the Government in the five years before the attacks and that it sought protection and support for the vulnerable Muslim community.
The submission says these efforts then intensified because of mounting Islamophobia, and that there “can be no question” that the council’s push would have been clear to the Government.
“Almost nothing was in place by the time of the mosque shootings,” the submission says. “No nationwide strategy, no coordinated or linked protection programmes by police or SIS, no register of hate crimes."
The council says if these were in place then they could have been actioned when a threat was made from Christchurch to burn a Quran at a Hamilton mosque in the month before the deadly attacks.
“Officials failed to prepare and failed to heed advice from the community about how serious the risks were. They ignored the evidence put in front of them,” the council says in its submission.
The Hamilton Threat
The council says the Hamilton threat was received on 20 February 2019 through a direct Facebook message.
According to the council, it made “inappropriate and offensive comments” and its author “indicated that he intended to burn a Quran in front of the Mosque on 15 March 2019”.
The person who wrote the message had his “location identified as Christchurch”, the council says.
The message was sent to police and support asked for, the submission says.
Several days later, on February 26, the council’s submissions says an officer “did not seem to take the matter too seriously” and had said the person who made the threat was known to police and suffered mental issues and was “not likely not harm anyone”.
“There seemed to be a reluctance to follow it up further,” the submission says.
The police also told the complainant that the person was in Hamilton, not Christchurch.
The submission also says police said they would increase patrols to ensure "nothing got out of hand”.
After the March 15 attacks, the complainant contacted police again to ask if there was any connection, and the council’s submission says police said there was not.