New Zealand welcomes Facebook ban on white nationalism


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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has welcomed Facebook’s decision to ban white nationalism and white separatism from the social media platform.

“Arguably, these categories should always have fallen within their community guidelines of hate speech.

“Nevertheless it’s positive the clarifications have now been made in the wake of the attack here in Christchurch,’’ she said at a news conference on Thursday in Christchurch.

Fifty people died when a suspected white supremacist opened fire on worshippers in two mosques in the city on March 15.

He broadcast a live video of the massacre on Facebook.

The social media giant announced on Wednesday that it would widen its definition of prohibited hateful content on Facebook and Instagram.

Ardern said countries including Australia, Ireland and Germany have taken steps to fine social media companies if they do not restrain the spread of extremist material.

New Zealand, too, would look into what could be done.

New Zealand is commemorating the victims and all those affected by the Christchurch attack with a national remembrance service on Friday.

“The memorial service will reflect that it was the Muslim community that was hit by the attack,’’ Ardern said.

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the leader of the opposition Bill Shorten will attend the service, as well as many heads of state from the Pacific community.

In total, diplomatic delegates from 59 countries are to attend the service.

Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, is among a line-up of artists who will perform at the memorial, which will be held at Christchurch’s Hagley Park near the al-Noor mosque, where most of the victims were killed.

The service will be live-streamed and shown at several events around the country.

However, some planned events were cancelled amid concerns that stretched police resources could not guarantee the safety of the crowds.

“While police has no information to suggest any specific risks to public safety, the national threat level remains high and police’s vigilance and visible presence throughout New Zealand will continue.

“Decisions on whether or not events would be held were left to the event organisers,’’ police said.

Earlier on, Ardern announced that Prince William would be travelling to Christchurch in late April.

“I’m really pleased that he can make a short visit to support those affected by the attack and pay tribute to the extraordinary compassion and solidarity that New Zealanders have displayed in recent weeks,’’ she said.

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