SINGAPORE: Comments made by Australian senator Fraser Anning in the wake of shootings at two mosques in Christchurch are Islamophobic and "sickening", Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said on Friday (Mar 15).
The attack left 49 dead and dozens wounded, plunging the country into what New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called one of its "darkest days".
In a Facebook post on Friday, Mr Shanmugam condemned the attack as a "horrific massacre".
"New Zealand is a peaceful country. Seen as a model of race relations," he said. "Today it suffered a horrific massacre of 49 innocent persons."
"Hours later, an Australian senator issued an Islamophobic statement, describing Islam as a violent, fascist religion, and said it promoted savage beliefs," said the minister. "He also attacked the Prophet, and blamed Muslim immigration for the massacre."
Added the minister: "The senator’s statement is sickening. It is completely unacceptable. And he issued it when people are grieving."
"In some parts of the world, there is open Islamophobia. Very sad."
Mr Shanmugam also voiced his support for the victims and their families.
"Our prayers are with the victims and their families. It is heartbreaking that people, praying in a mosque, should be mowed down."
In a statement issued after the deadly attack, Queensland senator Fraser Anning had said that while he condemned the actions of the gunman, the incident reflected the "growing fear" of Muslim immigration in Australia and New Zealand.
“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place," said the senator in a statement.
Ms Ardern had dubbed the attack terrorism on Friday, saying that from what authorities know, the attack appeared to have been "well-planned".
The attacker live-streamed footage of himself going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away.
A 28-year-old Australian-born man has been arrested and charged with murder.