New Zealand police have been investigating a threat against a mosque in the city of Christchurch, days before the place of worship marks the first anniversary of a massacre that left 51 Muslim worshipers killed.
Police was tipped off about the threat, made this week by a man on encrypted messaging app Telegram, against al-Noor Mosque, itself one of the mosques targeted in the deadly terrorist attack last year that was conducted by a self-avowed white supremacist.
The message reportedly showed a masked man sitting in a car outside the mosque accompanied by threatening text and a gun emoji.
“We have strong leads that we’re following up and I’m confident that we will establish who this person is,” Canterbury police commander superintendent John Price told Radio New Zealand. “We’re very close.”
Al-Noor Mosque, among other places, plans to hold a memorial service in Christchurch to mark the one-year anniversary of what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as “an unprecedented act of terror (that) shattered our small country.”
Ardern, who is set to attend a service at the city’s Hagley Park, said Tuesday that she found it hard to believe that the country’s Muslim community was still being subjected to such hatred.
“I will be amongst many New Zealanders who will be devastated to see that as we head towards the one-year anniversary of a most horrific terror attack on the Muslim community, that they should then be the target of this kind of activity,” she told reporters, referring to the new threat.
Referring to the fact that a member of the public tipped the police off about the threat, Price, the Canterbury police superintendent, said, “That’s the way we’ll conquer this issue in our society, is by everyone standing up and saying this is not OK.”
The mosque attacker, an Australian national, is due to stand trial on June 2 on 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder, and one of engaging in a terrorist act.