NZ PM says Christchurch terror attack film should focus on Muslim community

(AA): Following a backlash, New Zealand producer Philippa Campbell on Monday announced she will no longer be involved in the making of a controversial film on the Christchurch terror attacks, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying the Muslim community should be at the center of any film about the shootings, not her.

The planned Hollywood movie, They Are Us, is said to focus on Ardern’s response in the week following the March 15, 2019 massacre.

The move came after strong reaction from the Muslim community in the island nation, which said the focus on the prime minister, rather than the victims, is wrong, and it is just Hollywood profiting off the community’s pain.

In a statement to New Zealand media, Campbell said she deeply regrets the shock and hurt the announcement of the film has led to throughout New Zealand.

She said she listened to the concerns raised over recent days, and agrees that the events are too raw for film at this time, and does not wish to be involved with a project that is causing such distress.

Brenton Tarrant, an Australian white supremacist, killed 51 people and injured 40 more at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre. He was sentenced to life in prison last August without the possibility of parole, in a first such ruling ever handed down in New Zealand.

A petition to shut down the film’s production, launched by the National Islamic Youth Association of New Zealand, has also gained over 61,000 signatures over the past three days.

The association said the filmmaker sidelines the victims and survivors and instead centers on the response of a white woman.

Premier Ardern, while distancing herself from the project, said she was not consulted. “I have no involvement or no knowledge,” she told TVNZ.

“While there are many stories that should be told at some point, I don’t consider mine to be one of them … they are the stories from our Muslim community so they need to be at the center of that. I don’t consider mine to be one of the stories that needs to be told.”

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

[Archive photo:  People place flowers at memorial sites as a tribute to victims of the Friday’s terrorist attacks on two mosques that left at least 50 people killed in Christchurch, in New Zealand on March 19, 2019.  Photographer: Recep Şakar/AA]


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