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New Zealand PM Ardern Urges Her Nation To Make Gunman 'Nameless'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the parliament Tuesday as New Zealand considers new gun laws after the mass shooting in that stunned the country.
Mark Tantrum
Getty Images
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the parliament Tuesday as New Zealand considers new gun laws after the mass shooting in that stunned the country.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in her first speech to her nation's Parliament after last week's terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, said the gunman should be denied the publicity he was seeking.

"That's why you will never hear me mention his name," said Ardern. "He is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless."

The alleged shooter had written a 74-page screed promoting his white supremacist views and had livestreamed his attack on the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.

"He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name," she said.

Ardern said that that the gunman is an Australian citizen facing one count of murder. She said that other charges will follow, adding, "The families of the fallen will have justice."

The prime minister also said her government "will look at the role social media played" in the publicizing the attacks.

Ardern said it is no longer acceptable for companies operating social media platforms to shirk their responsibility for what is published on their sites.

"They are the publisher, not just the postman," she said. "There cannot be the case of all profit, no responsibility."

Ardern repeated her earlier promise to seek changes in New Zealand's gun laws.

She said her Cabinet will announce "some decisions" before it meets again next Monday. She offered no other details. As NPR's Matthew Schwartz reported, one focus likely will be on restricting the purchase and modification of semi-automatic weapons such as the one the gunman allegedly used to kill 50 people.

Earlier in the day, a local health official said that 30 people remain hospitalized in Christchurch, nine of which are critical condition. Two others — a 4-year-old in critical condition and her father — were transferred to a hospital in Auckland.

The 37-year-old prime minister has been receiving praise for her response to her nation's tragedy, exuding strength, compassion and calm in public settings.

She opened her remarks Tuesday saying, "One of the roles I never anticipated having, and hoped never to have, is to voice the grief of a nation."

Ardern also underlined her nation's self-image as a welcoming country as she referred to the Muslims who died while attending Friday prayer service.

"They are New Zealand," she said. "They are us."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Richard Gonzales
Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.