‘Utterly dismayed’: Scot living in Christchurch tells of shock after mosque shooting

Christchurch resident Gail Ross, originally from Renfrew, near Glasgow, and who emigrated to New Zealand, said that people were in “deep shock” following the terror attack this morning.

Friday, 15th March 2019, 2:31 pm
Updated Friday, 15th March 2019, 2:32 pm

Forty-nine people were killed at two mosques after a right-wing extremist went on a shooting spree in New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier said at least 20 other people had been seriously injured, and described it as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.

Here, Gail tells of life in Christchurch and how the attack has rocked the city.

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People wait outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack.

“I haven’t seen people so shocked and utterly dismayed and traumatised since the earthquake in 2011 when so many people lost their lives. It is a real kick in the guts to a city which is still very much in recovery.

“This is giving us an understanding of how it must have felt when the terror attacks happened in cities like London and Paris.

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“There is such an enormous wave of sympathy and support for the Muslims in Christchurch, many of whom chose to come here as refugees thinking they were coming to a safe place at last. Christchurch has changed a lot and become multi-cultural over the years.

“Because of the earthquake many people here are still getting over the psychological effects and are focussing on trying to get a home or battling with insurance companies.

“I think the people who did this have kind of flown under the radar in a way they might not have been able to do if the city had been ticking along as usual. Attention has been centred on the centre of the city and trying to rebuild and things which might have been picked up on perhaps were not.

“It’s not unusual to see right-wing groups doing their hate crime speeches in the square in front of Christchurch Cathedral, but it’s been brushed under the carpet. They even had a demonstration around December or January but people just wished they’d go away.

“People are questioning why those involved in this incident weren’t on a watch list. There have been New Zealanders who’ve gone over to join ISIS but whatever government is in power I don’t think the intelligence services get enough funding and the focus has tended to be on border control.

“It was always predicted there could be some sort of terror attack at some stage but we always expected it would come from ISIS, rather than the extreme right wing.

“They dress it up as freedom of expression but it’s really freedom to hate.”