The chairman of New Zealand’s biggest mosque told a rally attended by thousands in the city of Auckland on Saturday that Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, was behind the far-right terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques that left dead fifty people and wounded dozens of others.
In a video posted online, Ahmed Bhamji can be heard saying, “I will not mince my words. I stand here and I say that I have a very, very strong suspicion that there is some group behind him, and I am not afraid to say that I feel that the Mossad is behind this.”
Bhamji continued: “And not only them. There are some business houses (…) Zionist business houses that are behind him,” to which a member of the crowd loudly replied, “that is the truth, Israel is behind it.”
The preacher made the comments the same day New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to hundreds gathered at the mosque that he chairs – the Masjid e Umar in Mt. Roskill – for an open vigil for the victims of the massacre.
New Zealand’s Jewish community reacted with outrage to the news. “These conspiracy theories are dangerous lies. They put the Jewish community at risk, at a time of heightened security concerns,” New Zealand Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses told the local outlet, Newshub.
“Conspiracy theories – particularly the idea that Jews (whether through the Jewish state or otherwise) are a malevolent controlling force in the world – are at the very core of anti-Semitism,” she added.
Umar Abdul Kuddus, a prominent Muslim activist and council member, wrote on Facebook: “I am horrified and offended that the chairman made these ridiculous and hurtful comments towards the Jewish community.”
“I was on the ground in Christchurch and I saw Rabbis and Jewish community leaders coming to support and pray with us for the victims and their families.
“I feel embarrassed, he said, “that this individual is seen as a representative of my community when in fact he represents no one person of the Muslim community but for his own unacceptable views.”
The Jewish community in Pittsburgh – five months after suffering a xenophobic terror attack of its own – has so far raised $60,000 in support of the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks.
“We feel compelled to come to the aid of those communities, just as our Jewish community was so compassionately supported only a few short months ago by people around the world of many faiths,” the fundraising website says. “We recall with love the immediate, overwhelming support Tree of Life received from our Muslim brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh.”