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New Zealand holds conference to counter terrorism, extremism

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opens 2-day He Whenua Taurikura assembly in Christchurch

Islamuddin Sajid   | 15.06.2021
New Zealand holds conference to counter terrorism, extremism

ANKARA

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened on Tuesday the country's first two-day conference on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Christchurch, where over 50 Muslims were killed in a terrorist attack in 2019.

“He Whenua Taurikura, ‘a country at peace’, will look at how we can all contribute to making our country more inclusive and safe,” she said.

According to a statement, the annual event will promote public conversation, understanding and research on radicalization. "It will look at ways to challenge hate-motivated extremist ideologies and to discuss priorities to address issues of terrorism and violent extremism."

The conference is being attended by people from the Muslim community, officials, civil society and academia to share their knowledge and experiences.

“I am heartened by the number of people who have given their time to contribute to the event, and share their experiences and expertise,” said Ardern.

“This hui [conference] will help develop options for the National Centre of Excellence, which will focus on generating research and public discussion to prevent and counter violent extremism, understand diversity and promote social cohesion,” said Andrew Little, the lead coordination minister for the government’s response to the Royal Commission’s report on the terrorist attack.

“Our goal is for New Zealand to be a safe country where everyone feels they belong, where all cultures and human rights are valued and celebrated, and where everyone can participate and contribute," he added.

Brenton Tarrant, an Australian terrorist with a white supremacist ideology, killed 51 people and injured 40 more at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15, 2019. He was sentenced to life in prison last August without the possibility of a parole.

Last December, the prime minister apologized for failings in the lead-up to the massacre, as a royal commission made recommendations to prevent such attacks in the future.

The 792-page report, which took about 18 months to compile, identified deficiencies in the firearms licensing system, as well as “inappropriate concentration of resources” on the part of security agencies.

It made a list of recommendations, including changes to how firearms are managed, establishing a new national intelligence and security agency and a proposal for the police to better identify and respond to hate crimes.

Earlier, the government had reformed its gun laws, and banned military-style semi-automatic weapons as well as parts that could be used to build prohibited firearms.

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