No safe place

The attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand perpetrated by a crazed white supremacist last week brought home one tragic fact: there is no longer any place in this world that is safe from terrorists.

For the longest time, New Zealand seemed to be one of the very rare exceptions where no such thing as terrorist attacks was possible.

Up until last week, New Zealand was known as an idyllic place, a country known for its natural beauty, the world leader in the dairy industry, and an ultra-progressive government that served its people well. It was a place that many dreamed not only of visiting, but even retiring to.

It is worth noting that tens of thousands of our fellow Filipinos have migrated to the country and most have become happy, productive citizens there.

In pop culture, New Zealand will forever be linked to the unforgettable Lord of the Rings trilogy, one of cinema’s all-time classics. The standing joke was that there were more sheep than people in the country, which also had unbreakable ties to its neighbor Australia.

The peaceful, docile sheep was as fitting a representation of New Zealand as any creature.

About the only other major tragedy experienced by the country in general, and Christchurch in particular, was one major killer earthquake some years back, followed by a lesser albeit still deadly temblor a few years later.

Not anymore. Not after the senseless killing of 50 Muslims who were attending their weekly services in a place of prayer.

It was a hate crime, pure and simple. All the victims were innocents. Most had immigrated to New Zealand because they believed the country down under was a safe haven from terrorists.

Before the merciless killing of the innocents, the grand total of citizens or residents of New Zealand who had been killed or injured by any kind of terrorist attack was zero.

In its aftermath, we learned that the country may actually share a problem with the US: the firearms used in the killing spree were legally purchased. But at least the Prime Minister has promised to make the purchase of firearms, especially semi-automatics, more tightly regulated in the near future.

What makes the tragedy in Christchurch so disturbing is that a white supremacist has again been identified with the dastardly crime. The rise in hate crimes by white supremacists has risen dramatically in the last couple of years.

There are those who would pin part of the blame on President Donald Trump, as he cannot escape responsibility for his constant use of language that is mostly used by hatemongers. Like it or not, Mr. Trump inspires fanatics who have an axe to grind against those who do not share their religious beliefs, sexual preference, or skin color.

All we will say is that his reaction to the Christchurch carnage was less than kind, and devoid of feeling.

For now, we join the rest of the civilized world in offering our sympathy and prayers to the victims of the massacre, and hope that New Zealand never again experiences anything like what happened there last week.