About two dozen Muslim residents of Japan huddled together Tuesday afternoon outside the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward at a vigil for the victims of last week’s mosque shootings in Christchurch.
Participants from countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iraq and Indonesia gathered at a Shibuya park to condemn violence and offer prayers, chanting “terror has no religion.”
Holding banners with slogans condemning terrorism, they marched in groups to leave floral tributes.
At least 50 people were killed and several dozens more were wounded in an attack on two mosques full of worshipers during midday Friday prayers.
Samiul Islam, 26, who just got a job in Osaka after receiving a master’s degree in tourism and hospitality management from a Japanese university, came to protest terrorism.
“It’s not a protest against any country. It’s against terrorism,” he told The Japan Times after offering a prayer.
Pakistani Naim Ul Ghani Arain, a car dealer from Saitama Prefecture who has lived in Japan for 37 years, organized the vigil. He praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s decision to change gun laws.
“It’s important to limit access to weapons,” he said. He also called for severe punishment in terrorism cases to prevent massacres like the one in Christchurch from reoccurring. He also called for the end of anti-Muslim bigotry and white supremacy around the world.
“No religion allows for such acts of terror,” he stressed.
He said the group gathered to show the world that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism and expressed his discontent with the media’s hesitation to label massacres caused by non-Muslims as terrorism.
The suspect in the attack is 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, who opened fire at worshippers while livestreaming the massacre via Facebook. Before the shooting, Tarrant posted links to a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto on Twitter and a right-wing online forum. Tarrant was charged with murder on Saturday and is likely to face additional charges.
Ardern, whose office received the manifesto several minutes before the country’s deadliest mass shooting, slammed the attack as an act of terrorism. She said she would change the country’s gun laws and ban all semi-automatic weapons.