EDITORIAL:

The killers of Muslims at prayer in Christchurch on Friday have achieved exactly the opposite of their sick intentions. They have united New Zealander in horror and anguish that such a thing could happen to any people in this country.

In that anguish there comes a deep and lasting realisation that our Muslim community is very much a part of who we are. Their grief is shared by any decent human being. We embrace them as fellow New Zealanders and we want them to know that.

As the Prime Minister put it so well, "They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us".

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That of course is exactly the opposite of the message these killers want to deliver. Only one person has been charged following the massacres at two mosques in Christchurch but if the shooter acted alone, he is sadly not alone in his hate.

The footage on social media is said to have found some supporters in the world, hopefully not in New Zealand. This country has been blessedly free of the hatred generated by a few irresponsible voices on the far right of politics in response to terrorism in the name of Islam.

Anyone who has been inclined to blame all Muslims for the murderous acts of a few, knows now how the vast majority feel. To blame them or their religion is as absurd as it would be to blame New Zealand for this crime.

Hate does not prosper here. Those who harbour an ugly dislike of different races, religions and cultures, live on the margins of public acceptance, not given newspaper space, left to roam the internet for sites that reflect their prejudices.

If their attitudes have been politely avoided rather than confronted in this country, they are more likely to be confronted now. The events of March 15, 2019, will ring loud in the nation's memory forever.

We now know, if we did not before, how deadly hatred can be.

The haters have made an impact but not the one they wanted. They have discredited their resentment of immigrant cultures and brought us closer to the Muslims in our midst.

That is no consolation to the families of the 49, probably more, whose lives have been lost. But their loss will never be forgotten because we share it. This has become their country too.