New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters told a press conference on Monday, March 18 that the Turkish president’s decision to screen footage from the Christchurch shooting could endanger New Zealanders, Deutsche Welle reports.
Fifty people were killed in attacks on two mosques in the southern city on Friday. The alleged gunman, Australian Brenton Tarrant, broadcast the carnage live on Facebook. Social media companies have been scrambling ever since to remove the viral video from their platforms.
Now the footage has made an appearance at several political rallies in Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used snippets from the recording at televised campaign events over the weekend in an apparent attempt to boost support ahead of upcoming polls. He also projected excerpts purported to be from the gunman’s manifesto onto a giant screen and told the crowd the suspect had made threats against Turkish Muslims.
When asked about Erdogan’s use of the footage, Peters said it was “totally unfair.”
“Anything of that nature that misrepresents this country, given that this was a non-New Zealand citizen, imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad,” he said.
The minister added that he had made it clear to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and deputy Vice President Fuat Oktay — who are both visiting New Zealand — that the country’s image should not be distorted.
“We are for a free and open society … we did not start or bring about this disaster, and they clearly understood that,” he said.
New Zealand authorities have ordered news outlets and social media users not to share the graphic content. Facebook said it had removed 1.5 million videos in the first 24 hours after the attack, but critics accused the social media giant of being too slow to act. A New Zealand teenager charged with distributing the footage appeared in court on Monday.