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Christchurch attack: Jacinda Ardern demands answers

Mr Morrison told the Sun Herald and The Sunday Age security authorities had canvassed the risk of copycat attacks by right-wing terrorists or retaliation for the murders.

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“Our agencies and authorities have swung immediately into action to protect against any such threat in any forms it can take,” Mr Morrison said.

Christchurch on Saturday was eerily subdued except for those sites marked by Friday’s slaughter.

Those sites included the Al Noor and Linwood mosques where police forensics gathered evidence; the district court where Tarrant appeared mid-morning; the public hospital where the wounded were being treated; and the refuge set up for survivors and family at a nearby high school.

Some of those inside the refuge were waiting on news from the hospital, others for the dead to be released for burial.

Most that spoke to the Sun Herald and The Sunday Age said they could not believe such violence had struck a community from a small city that drew its members from all parts.

“People in New Zealand don’t even know what that sort of gunfire sounds like,” said Sasha Gandiwa, who had come to pay her respects to the dead.

Mourners pay their respects at a makeshift memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.

Mourners pay their respects at a makeshift memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.Credit:AP

In Sydney, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, initiated a meeting with Islamic religious leaders and community organisations in Lakemba. Mr Morrison said authorities needed to remain vigilant, but could not offer guarantees or protections.

“The interesting thing about this individual is he was – as I’m advised – on nobody’s radar anywhere,” Mr Morrison said.

“This is the real challenge when it comes to issues of terrorism, regardless of its origins; in this case extremist views based on white supremacist and separatist ideologies which are abhorrent and foster hate.”

The New Zealand leader, Ms Ardern, said authorities were “live” to the growth of violent right-wing extremist groups. But Mr Tarrant was not on an Australian or New Zealand watch list.

Alleged Christchurch terror attack shooter Brenton Tarrant attended Grafton High School.

Alleged Christchurch terror attack shooter Brenton Tarrant attended Grafton High School.

“This individual should have been someone that the authorities were aware of and were proactively already focused on,” she said.

“Those are the exact questions that we have asked and that the agencies are working on.”

In Grafton, where Tarrant lived and worked as a personal trainer until moving to New Zealand, anti-terrorism detectives interviewed Tarrant’s mother, Sharon.

After moving to New Zealand, Tarrant embraced more liberal gun laws than exist in Australia, practicing shooting at the South Otago rifle club. Ms Ardern said her country’s gun laws would be reformed.

Part of the explanation for Tarrant’s radicalisation seems to lie in online white-supremacist communities. Prior to his assault, he posted an extensive ‘manifesto’ littered with knowing references to racist Internet memes.

Mr Morrison’s government decided on Saturday to ban the controversial right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos from entering Australia. Mr Yiannopoulos responded to the atrocities by describing Islam as a barbaric and alien religious culture.

The Greens Senator, Mehreen Faruqi, said she was “heartbroken and scared” after the attacks and blamed politicians and parts of the media for inciting hate and Islamophobia over years.

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Senator Faruqi named One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Queensland Nationals MP George Christensen as some of those who had spread division.

“Other politicians have stood by and allowed this to happen, and even hoped that anti-migrant and anti-Muslim sentiment would win them votes,” Senator Faruqi said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and opposition leader Michael Daley suspended campaigning for a day, a week out from next Saturday’s election. Sydney’s Opera House was lit up with the Silver Fern of New Zealand for a night – as a symbol of solidarity with New Zealand.

Nick O’Malley is a senior writer and a former US correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Jacob Saulwick is City Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.

David Crowe is Chief Political Correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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