Christchurch shooting: Jacinda Ardern praised worldwide
Observers across the planet raced to express their admiration for the leader who knew instinctively on Friday how to respond to the worst terrorist attack her country had seen.
Leaders in the United States were particularly moved by Ms Ardern’s empathetic response to the massacre that left 50 dead and 31 still hospitalised.
Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter Bernice King tweeted that Ms Ardern “reflects the type of sincere, people-oriented leadership that the world needs to evolve from its current chaotic state.”
New York City Muslim community organiser Faiza Ali called Ms Ardern a “remarkable leader” and said her face was one of those she would “never forget” from the tragedy.
Among the many faces & stories I’ll remember from the #ChristChurchMosque tragedy, I will never forget Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. What a remarkable leader. Not only did she ban assault weapons following the incident, she’s offered financial assistance to the victims familes. pic.twitter.com/LT7cCqjPhK
— Faiza N. Ali (@faiza_n_ali) March 17, 2019
Dignity. Grace. Courage.
New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern mourns at a vigil in a full hijab; she promised to cover all funeral expenses and take care of all the victim’s families going forward. This after announcing NZ would ban assault rifles. Real leaders do exist#Christchurch pic.twitter.com/BtJe2yNR2P
— The Crisis Magazine (@thecrisismag) March 17, 2019
Iranian-American journalist Negar Mortazavi said Ms Ardern had shown “strong leadership” in wearing the hijab as a sign of respect while meeting Muslim community leaders after the massacre at two mosques.
“Dignity. Grace. Courage,” tweeted The Crisis Magazine, the official publication for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), along with a photo of the prime minister. “Real leaders do exist.”
Turkish politician Cihangir Islam said Ms Ardern “says to Muslims in pain, ‘You, you’re us!’ She symbolically covers her head when she goes to a home for condolences; she boldly underlines her respect and solidarity. How thirsty we have become for justice and mercy in state administration.”
Just hours after the brutal violence, Ms Ardern had condemned the “extremist” perpetrators who had “no place in New Zealand”, labelling the attacks “terrorism”.
The following day, she flew to Christchurch to meet Muslim leaders, and told them that it was “for you to determine” how she should spend her time there. She was seen embracing a mother and told the community the nation was “united in grief”.
Now that’s the kind of action we need to emulate. She consoled. She was strong. She initiated action. That’s the model to follow. https://t.co/1oyQOhwAlj
— Maria Shriver (@mariashriver) March 18, 2019
One of the things that struck me about how @jacindaardern has shown leadership in the aftermath of this awful massacre is that she doesn’t use words of vengeance, or retribution, or hate against the evil of what happened. She uses words of love and compassion to those in pain.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) March 18, 2019
When @JacindaArdern came to City Hall last year, we talked passionately about the importance of inclusivity and equality in society.
Acts like this shock to the core our open and diverse countries and I know Londoners stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Christchurch. pic.twitter.com/QVytpcxBoQ
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) March 16, 2019
Many advocated her swift announcement of financial support for victims’ families — citizens or not — and vow to ban assault rifles. Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington said it was “exactly what governments are supposed to do”.
By Monday, Ms Ardern had announced that tighter gun laws would be introduced in New Zealand within ten days of the attack. Her deputy Winston Peters, leader of power-sharing and usually anti-regulation party NZ First, said he supported the move.
NBC News Special Anchor Maria Shriver tweeted: “She consoled. She was strong. She initiated action. That’s the model to follow.”
Amercia’s ABC News chief political analyst Matthew Dowd said he was struck by how “she doesn’t use words of vengeance, or retribution, or hate against the evil of what happened. She uses words of love and compassion to those in pain.”
Today, she went even further, declaring that she would not say the mass murderer’s name and give him what he wanted the most: notoriety. “One thing I can assure you — you won’t hear me speak his name,” she told reporters in Wellington.
“I agree that it is absolutely something that we need to acknowledge, and do what we can to prevent the notoriety that this individual seeks.
“He obviously had a range of reasons for committing this atrocious terrorist attack. Lifting his profile was one of them. And that’s something that we can absolutely deny him.”
Inside parliament, she went a step further. “He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless. And to others, I implore you, speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them.
“He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name.”
Gunman Brenton Tarrant live-streamed the atrocity on social media, and smirked as he saw the media in Christchurch District Court on Saturday, where he appeared charged with one count of murder. He flashed a white supremacist hand gesture as he was remanded without a plea until his next appearance in court on April 5, when he is likely to face further charges.
The Washington Post said the response from Americans showed “Jacindamania” had “taken on a new and totally different dimension”. It said her domestic struggles with affordable housing and the economy had done nothing to effect global perception of her as an “inspirational leader for the modern age”.
The world was quickly enamoured when the progressive, 37-year-old woman became prime minister, and only more admiring when she became just the second world leader to have a child while in the role — and the first to bring her baby to the United Nations General Assembly.
She appeared in Vogue, on the popular Late Show With Stephen Colbert and in Time magazine’s list of 100 “most influential people”. Sheryl Sandberg described her as a “political prodigy”.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said Ms Ardern was passionate about “the importance of inclusivity and equality in society” and such acts “shock to the core our open and diverse countries”.
“Can you imagine having a leader of a country showing this kind of empathy?” wrote London literary agent Jonny Geller. “Thank you, Jacinda Ardern, for reminding the world what a Leader is and could be.”
Jacinda Ardern has been a rock for New Zealand as the country grieves the loss of 49 people killed in the mosque shootings.
Christchurch shootings: Jacinda Ardern’s classy acts in wake of tragedy
Originally published as ‘Real leaders exist’: Jacinda stuns world