Mosque Attack is a documentary about a Turkish survivor of the New Zealand mosque attack. Temel Atacocugu is an incredible character who was shot nine times on that terrible day but somehow managed to survive - a miracle he puts down to his faith.

[NOTE: Due to copyrights, the full film will be removed on April 5.]

Gerard Smyth, the director and producer of the documentary, explains how the attack shocked a nation, “We New Zealanders are mostly a secular people. Only 9% are regular church goers.  Less than 1% are Muslim.  We are a land of immigrants-the last major land mass to have been settled by humans. So we are a new land.  We are mostly peace loving, we embrace diversity and we have no intergenerational and entrenched dislike of people who are different from us. We are too new. The mosque attack came as a terrible shock to us all. The attacker was not a New Zealander, there was no overt dislike of Muslims because we are not really religious. We do try to accept immigrants from all over the planet. That is who we are-immigrants, all of us.”  

Gerard closely observed the reactions and recovery process of the Muslim community in New Zealand after the attack. He says many in the community were recent immigrants which makes the situation even worse. “Nearly all did not have English as their first language. Their networks of support were mostly with other new immigrant nationalities. My understanding of their recovery is that it has been a slow and painful process.” Still one good point is that many of those injured have received free medical care and the victims have been embraced by the wider community.

Temel Atacocugu  was shot nine times on the New Zealand mosque attack.
Temel Atacocugu was shot nine times on the New Zealand mosque attack. ()

The attack affected the psychology of the Muslim community and their feeling of belonging to New Zealand. According to Gerard, most of the survivors wanted to return to their families and countries of origin. “For all the attack victims, the challenge has been to remain in their chosen new country. All have been challenged by isolation faced in a new and foreign land where Islam is not a major influence.”

Gerard says they were all horrified at what happened to their neighbors and tens of thousands of people came out onto the streets to support their fellow New Zealanders. “This is not us” was written large over the land. Gerard adds, “I would like the world to know that what happened here was outrageous and utterly unacceptable. The suffering was and is something that innocent God loving people have had to endure because of one man’s madness. We don’t speak that man’s name. He is nothing. His views we have buried. We do our best to help the victims.”

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