All over the planet, from our strongest allies to our bitter foes, world leaders have expressed shock and sympathy over the terrible tragedy that occurred on Friday in Newton, Connecticut. The shooting of 20 young victims at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and six of their teachers moved even the most powerful Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, and Queens to tears. The entire world is in mourning and kind words of hope for the future are flowing like the sweet balm of forgetfulness.
While the tone was generally supportive, some politicians used the shootings as a platform to attack other nations. Iran used the tragedy in a barely concealed attempt to criticize the United Sates and Israel. Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast condemned the “tragic incident” and expressed sympathy with the families of the victims:
“The children and young adolescents falling victim to armed clashes in Gaza or in the U.S., in Afghanistan or Pakistan, in Iraq or Syria, are not different from each other from the humanitarian point of view, so everyone should make efforts to restore peace, security and tranquility to the whole world.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu was less blatant than the government of Iran, but he too made a pointed political comment:
“(Netanyahu) condemned the ‘savage massacre of innocent children and adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. We in Israel have experienced such cruel acts of slaughter and we know the shock and horror they bring.’”
In the Vatican, Pope Benedict expressed his “heartfelt grief” and issued a statement through Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.:
“In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, he (The Pope) asks God our Father to console all those who mourn and to sustain the entire community with the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.”
Perhaps Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel came the closest to expressing the utter senselessness and horror of the murder of 20 innocent children:
“Once again we’re completely aghast over an act that we can’t comprehend. An incredible suffering has been brought to so many families so close to Christmas. The thoughts over the schoolchildren and teachers killed weigh heavily on our hearts.”
European leaders are no strangers to the shock of senseless acts of violence. Much of Europe is still reeling over the awful crimes of Anders Breivik, who killed eight Norwegians with a bomb and then gunned down 69 teenagers at a political youth camp. While European expressed great sympathy for the victims in Newtown, they were also critical of the abundance of guns owned by American citizens and the large number of gun related mass murders committed in the United States.
Great Britain, which only experienced 18 gun homicides in 2009 and greatly limits private gun ownership, was also stunned by the shootings. British Prime Minister David Cameron said he “was shocked and deeply saddened to hear about today’s horrific shooting.”
“My thoughts are with the injured and those who have lost loved ones. It is heartbreaking to think of those who have had their children robbed from them at such a young age, when they had so much life ahead of them.”
Other well known British media figures were less diplomatic and used the tragedy as a platform to demand a ban on handguns in the United States. One such individual was British CNN host Piers Morgan, who seems to think that being a host of an American talk show entitles him to use the shootings to hammer home his gun control agenda instead of having the good taste to allow the families time to grieve and bury their dead before opening what is sure to be one of the most contentious debates in American history.
Morgan invoked the memory of Dunblane, a 1996 shooting in a Scottish town which killed 16 children and led to an almost complete ban on private handgun ownership in Great Britain.
“This is America’s Dunblane, We banned handguns in Britain after that appalling tragedy. What will the U.S. do? Inaction not an option.”
Even Michael Moore and the Westboro Baptist Church has something to say about the shootings. Moore tweeted “The NRA wants your children dead” and Westboro announced they will be picketing the funerals of the kids. Both parties have come under extreme criticism for their cruel exploitation of this tragedy. Even the hacking collective Anonymous took offense and announced they would be removing the Westboro Baptist Church’s websites from the internet.
At the same time, America’s loyal friends north of the borders shared our pain and sent their prayers. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke for his nation, saying, ” The news is just awful. The thoughts and prayers of Canadians are with the students and families in Ct affected by this senseless violence. Foreign Minister, John Baird, added to Prime Minister Harper’s prayers, saying, “Canadians “stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends at this difficult time.”
Most of the world’s nations sent their thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. Everyone from Vladimir Putin to Queen Elizabeth expressed their sympathy. Other than the occasional self important media star, who was incapable of adult behavior and couldn’t resist the chance to exploit this terrible tragedy, the world stood strong with the American people as we try to make sense of an incomprehensible crime. Their kindness has helped to ease the pain in our nations hour of need and for this, we are eternally grateful.