MPs hold minute’s silence in memory of New Zealand terror attack victims
MPs have gathered in the House of Commons for a minute’s silence in memory of those killed in the New Zealand terror attack.
Speaker John Bercow led tributes to the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings, telling the chamber the pause in proceedings at 11am was in “solidarity” with the people of New Zealand and Muslims around the world.
He said: “This barbarity, this evil, this depravity will not prevail.
“We will stand up to it and it will be defeated.”
Security Minister Ben Wallace confirmed the UK was offering whatever assistance New Zealand required in the wake of the “repugnant” attack, adding both he and Home Secretary Sajid Javid were meeting police and security services to look at ways to protect British mosques.
He also said: “The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with New Zealand against terrorism and we will not falter in our commitment to uphold the values of tolerance, religious freedom and democracy that we both hold so dear.”
Labour MP Wes Streeting, co-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims, said what had happened in Christchurch would be felt deeply by UK communities.
In the wake of “Islamophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice not just in this country but right across the world”, he said “on behalf of the whole House, you are not alone in confronting prejudice and hatred”.
The MP for Ilford North said people must “never be a bystander in the face of hatred and prejudice because, as we have painfully seen in Christchurch, this is where it leads – but this isn’t how it necessarily needs to end”.
Conservative former minister Sir Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch in Dorset which is twinned with its namesake in New Zealand, said: “This grotesque manifestation of religious hatred is beyond comprehension.
“But, as the minister has intimated, it requires us all to redouble our efforts to promote the virtues of tolerance and religious freedom as the best weapons against the outrage of terror.”
Thangam Debbonaire, Labour MP for Bristol West, paid an emotional tribute and told the Commons: “The thought that people could walk into a place of prayer and face this is really quite unbearable.”
Peers also observed a minute’s silence in the House of Lords.