The aftermath of a shooting resulting in multiple fatalities and injuries at the Masjid Al Noor on Deans Avenue in Christchurch, New Zealand. [Photo: New Zealand Herald]

A nation – and the whole world – is still in shock today as at least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

The carefully planned attack reportedly took place as hundreds of people were praying at one of the mosques. The suspected shooter, Brenton Tarrant, is a 28-year-old white male with extensive white supremacist views. Tarrant captured the deadly incident at Masjid Al Noor mosque in a 17-minute video taken on a helmet camera.

In his social media posts, the suspect calls himself as Brenton Tarrant

Tarrant is also the author of a 74-page anti-immigrant “manifesto” called “The Great Replacement,” which according to The Guardian, references “white genocide” driven by “mass immigration and advocates for “an atmosphere of fear” against Muslims. This manifesto espousing white supremacy was posted online around the time of the attacks

Here in Madison, Masood Akhtar, an entrepreneur and a leader to the Muslim community, has been busy trying to reassure a community that is shocked and saddened.

“Since this morning when I woke up, my Inbox and text messages have been completely full and not just from the Muslim community but from the Jewish community, the Hispanic community … you name it,” Akhtar tells Madison365. “People are very concerned about what’s happening right now. But they also are very supportive … and that’s what America is all about.

Masood Akhtar

“This has been going on for a long period of time over the last several years and the number of things that we as the Muslim community are really focusing on include, first, to continue our job as the Muslims to educate people who believe what they see about religion from on television,” he adds. “We will continue to organize our events to let people know what real Islam is all about.”

The other thing Akhtar is asking the community to do is to join the efforts in condemning these kinds of attacks in the strongest possible way.

“One of the things that would be very helpful – and I’m asking elected official from both parties and our newly elected governor – would be to find a way to pass a resolution condemning this kind of anti-Muslim, anti-Semitism and all sorts of white supremacism,” Akhtar says. “That, to me, is very, very critical because if we don’t stop those kinds of things, this hate will continue.”

Akhtar is really concerned about the message that is coming out of the White House today, especially because the killer praised President Trump in his manifesto.

“What we need from President Trump right now is a condemnation of this kind of white supremacism and hate,” Akhtar says. “In his Tweet, we did not see anything condemning these kinds of attacks. People are watching him here and overseas and if he wants to keep his country safe and other countries safe, he has to come out in the strongest possible way and condemn any kind of attack.

“I think when you don’t condemn these types of attacks, it leads to more hate. If you look at this manifesto that this white man had, he clearly stated in his 74-page document that he admires Donald Trump because he is a symbol of renewed white identity in common purpose,” Akhtar continues. “So our president has to be very, very careful about the message he sends. That’s what all minorities are concerned about.

“Imagine, for a moment, if the shooter would have been a Muslim. We would have had a very different response from the White House. The first Islamic Terrorist. Then Islam hates us. Let’s ban more Muslim countries,” Akhtar adds. “He has completely ignored homegrown white supremacism which is growing at a much alarming rate and is more dangerous that ISIS. Trump has to condemnn them in the strongest possible way and save lives of innocent people here in the United States and abroad.”