- President Donald Trump expressed his "warmest sympathy" to New Zealand after a mass shooting at two mosques.
- Trump did not describe to the incident as an act of terrorism nor make any references to hatred or bigotry. New Zealand's prime minister and other world leaders did.
- The president has often faced criticism for his approach to incidents of violence and tragedy, particularly when bigotry is involved.
At least 49 people were killed in two New Zealand mosques on Friday in a mass shooting world leaders are decrying as terrorism and a vicious act of "racist hatred."
President Donald Trump, who was praised in the alleged manifesto of the man who's claimed responsibility for the shooting, has not described the Christchurch mosque massacre in such terms. The alleged shooter was seemingly driven by a white nationalist philosophy, harboring vehement anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments. Experts in the field of 8chan message board culture where the alleged shooter was a frequent poster cautioned however that the manifesto contains many ironic and misleading signals designed to amplify and sew chaos in coverage of the massacre.
Reacting to the shooting later than other global leaders, Trump on Friday morning tweeted , "My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!"
The president made no mention of terrorism, bigotry, or the suspect.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement referred to the incident as an "act of hate," going further than her boss, but did not mention terrorism.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER as to why it has not referred to the shooting as terrorism.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the incident was a "terrorist act."
In tweets, Ardern added , "What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities New Zealand is their home they are us...The person who has committed this violent act has no place here."
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May referred to the mass shooting as a "horrifying terrorist attack."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed solidarity with "citizens who were attacked and murdered out of racist hatred," adding, "we stand together against such acts of terrorism."
Similarly, French President Emmanuel Macron in a tweet said, "France stands against all forms of extremism and acts with its partners against terrorism in the world."
Trump has reacted to other acts of violence in far more explicit terms when less evidence was available. As London police were still investigating an incident involving a car crash outside the Houses of Parliament in August 2018, for example, the president tweeted, "Another terrorist attack in London...These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!"
In 2017, Trump was criticized by May over tweets he sent about a bomb on a London Underground train. Trump at the time tweeted those responsible were "l oser terrorists" and "sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard." Local authorities were still investigating the incident at the time, prompting May to rebuke Trump.
"I never think it's helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation," May said in response to Trump's tweets.
Trump has often faced backlash for his approach to violent incidents, especially those inspired by bigotry. After a deadly act of violence at a neo-Nazi rally in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, the president was slammed by politicians on both sides of the aisle for blaming "many sides" for what transpired.
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