Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the NRA and those offering “thoughts and prayers” in the wake of the devastating mosque shooting in New Zealand that took 49 lives. In a series of tweets, the liberal representative called for better gun control and asked people to check in on their Muslim friends in the wake of the tragedy.
“At 1st I thought of saying, ‘Imagine being told your house of faith isn’t safe anymore.’ But I couldn’t say ‘imagine.’ Because of Charleston. Pittsburgh. Sutherland Springs. What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?” she wrote in a tweet.
The New York politician was referencing three recent shootings at places of worship, including the Charleston shooting at the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in 2015, the Sutherland Springs shooting at the First Baptist Church in 2017, and the Pittsburgh shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue last year.
“This is a time of great vulnerability for our communities. We must come together, fight for each other, & stand up for neighbors. Isolation, dehumanizing stereotypes, hysterical conspiracy theories, & hatred ultimately lead to the anarchy of violence. We cannot stand for it,” she later added.
Ocasio-Cortez immediately faced backlash from people who said that her political stance was inappropriate so close to the actual event. Others tweeted that prayer was a positive way to support those suffering from the tragedy.
The 29-year-0ld followed up her tweets with a message that she wasn’t intending to criticize New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
(“Thoughts and prayers” is reference to the NRA’s phrase used to deflect conversation away from policy change during tragedies. Not directed to PM Ardern, who I greatly admire.)
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 15, 2019
Finally, the political firebrand reminded people that Friday is Jummah, the day of worship for Muslim believers, and suggested that people check in with their local mosque to offer “active, courageous love.”
— The Hill (@thehill) March 15, 2019
On Thursday, 49 people were killed and 20 injured in an attack on several Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques full of worshipers who were there for Friday prayers. Ardern called the shootings a “terrorist attack” and so far, one individual has been charged in the shootings and three others have been arrested. Explosives were found in the man’s car, though none were detonated.
The man charged with the shooting is in his late 20s and posted a manifesto online prior to beginning the massacre, which he filmed as it was taking place. He cited numerous far-right and white nationalist leaders as his inspiration.
President Trump sent out condolences via Twitter, saying the U.S. stood with New Zealand. Other world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II, sent their support as well. New Zealand was advising worshipers to avoid mosques until they could be certain that all of the people involved were detained.