“Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson said Saturday that he and his fellow New Zealanders “stand united in our love and support for our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters” in the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that left at least 49 people dead.
“New Zealanders are devastated,” Jackson said in a statement to Variety. “Our hearts go out to all those who have been harmed by this cowardly act of hate. Kiwis stand united in our love and support for our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. We will do whatever we can to help them heal and rise above this terrible tragedy.”
New Zealand and much of the world was stunned by the massacre of dozens of people who had gathered for Friday prayers inside the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island. A 28-year-old Australian man, a suspected far-right extremist who posted a manifesto detailing his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim views, was charged with murder in a New Zealand court Saturday.
Before the attacks, New Zealand was widely considered a placid, scenic land that doubled as the home of the hobbits in Jackson’s cinematic versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novels. The films vaulted the country into the international spotlight and drew tourists eager to see the movie locations.
Jackson’s statement Saturday was one of many expressions of sympathy and solidarity from well-known personalities in the aftermath of Friday’s terror attacks. “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi, who also hails from New Zealand, said the bigotry of the killer did not reflect his native country.
“I am dying knowing that this kind of hatred can happen in my homeland,” Waititi said. “All my love goes out to Christchurch, the victims, the families, the Muslim community, and all who have chosen our islands as their home. This is not us.”