Al-Azhar has condemned mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, which killed at least 49 people and injured dozens.
“The attack is a serious sign of the terrible consequences that can result from the escalation of the discourse of hate, xenophobia and Islamophobia in a number of Western countries, including even those that used to be known for their well-established values of tolerance,” said Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb in a statement.
The “sacrilegious, criminal attack” on a place of worship and the shedding of sanctified blood has to be taken seriously as a warning alarm indicating the urgent need to decisively deal with racist currents and groups that dare commit such distasteful acts, read the statement.
The statement also extended its sincere condolence to the families of the victims.
The top Sunni Islamic seat of learning urged more support for the values of coexistence, tolerance, and positive interaction between those of different backgrounds.
Gunmen attacked two mosques in the city of Christchurch during Friday prayers, in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern later described as a terrorist attack.
New Zealand police have said that a 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and will appear in the Christchurch District Court on Saturday morning. Two other suspects remain in custody.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the attack was "very well-planned," and said that mosques across the country would remain under police protection.