US Ambassador to NZ Voices Support For ‘Our Muslim Brothers and Sisters,’ And is Asked About Trump Not Having Done the Same

By Patrick Goodenough | March 17, 2019 | 10:51pm EDT
U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown and his wife Gail Huff leave 49 lilies from their garden at an Islamic center in Wellington, for the then 49 victims of Friday’s mosque attacks. The death toll is now 50. (Photo: U.S. Embassy, Wellington)

( – U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown on Sunday expressed support for “our Muslim brothers and sisters” in the wake of Friday’s Christchurch mosque killings, and when asked about President Trump not having done the same, pointed out that he “is the president’s representative here.”

“My wife and I brought 49 lilies, representing the 49 deaths at that point, down to the Islamic center in my hometown,” Brown told CNN’s “State of the Union” from the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

“Tonight, we participated in an amazing vigil with over 10,000 people reaching out to our Muslim brothers and sisters,” he added.

A lone gunman shot and killed 50 worshippers in two mosques during Friday prayers. The dead range in age from two years’ old to over 60. The suspected shooter, a 28-year-old Australian, is in custody and will appear in court again in early April.

Host Jake Tapper said Muslims and others have observed that “President Trump has yet to offer any kind of message or support specifically to any Muslim community.”

“Would you like to see him do so?”

“Well, as you know, Jake, I’m the president's representative here,” Brown replied. “And I have done it.”

“I would have to refer you to what’s happening in Washington,” he added, “because, quite frankly, it seems like it’s 14,000 kilometers away – which it is.”

Tapper then asked Brown, a Republican former senator from Massachusetts whom Trump nominated as ambassador in 2017, whether it “would make your job easier” if the president specifically said that he was standing with the Muslim community.

Brown said that, “as a former U.S. senator and as a diplomat now, as a member of the State Department, there’s been no time in my political or diplomatic life that I have ever questioned our government – whether it’s this government or any other prior government’s – commitment to end racism, to stop bigotry, to really deal with the Islamophobic attitudes.”

He said everything was focused on dealing with the aftermath of the attack in New Zealand, “and what’s happening around the world really seems a little bit irrelevant, to be honest with you, because we're dealing with taking care of those Muslim brothers and sisters and family members and community members and friends that are hurting right now.”

Friends and family wait near Christchurch Hospital for news of loved ones after Friday’s attack on two mosques, which cost the lives of 50 people. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

After the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history, Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday, “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

He also spoke by phone to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who told reporters on Saturday that “he very much wished for his condolences to be passed on to New Zealand.”

Ardern said Trump had asked what support the U.S. could provide.

“My message was: sympathy and love for all Muslim communities,” she said.

Asked what Trump’s response had been, Ardern replied, “He acknowledged that, and agreed.”

Tapper also asked Brown about the reference to Trump in the accused shooter’s 73-page manifesto, which was posted online immediately before Friday’s attack. On the subject of whether he supported Trump, the author wrote, “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure.” Then, he added, “As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.”

TAPPER: We know that the terrorist cited President Trump as a symbol of white identity in his document. Obviously, the perpetrator is the only one responsible for this horrific massacre, but what did you make of the fact that he cited the president as a symbol of this?

BROWN: I don’t give any – any credibility whatsoever to the ramblings of somebody who is rotten to the core and, clearly, is an extremist of the worst kind, who could walk into two mosques and without any care whatsoever kill people.

I don’t give any credibility to it. I’m not going to read it. I encourage others not to read it. I’m not going to give him the time of day. I hope, as quickly as possible, they can find a way to get this guy convicted and lock him up and throw away the key. That’s how I feel.

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