- The Washington Times
Saturday, March 23, 2019

New Zealand on Saturday officially banned the lengthy manifesto allegedly written by the perpetrator of last week’s massacre at two mosques in Christchurch.

David Shanks, New Zealand’s chief censor, said in a statement that the 74-page document has been classified as “objectionable” under federal law, effectively making it illegal to possess or distribute it unless exempted by authorities.

“There is an important distinction to be made between ‘hate speech’, which may be rejected by many right-thinking people but which is legal to express, and this type of publication, which is deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism,” said Mr. Shanks. “It crosses the line.”

Fifty people have died as a result of the March 15 shooting spree, and police have arrested a 28-year-old Australian man facing related charges. He is believed to have uploaded the manifesto to the internet shortly prior to broadcasting the rampage live on Facebook, where the social network said it was successfully shared hundreds of thousands of times in the massacre’s aftermath.

New Zealand similarly classified video of the shooting as objectionable on Monday, and regional outlets have since reported about the arrests of several people accused of sharing the footage on social media.

Reporters, researchers and academics can apply for exemptions to legally possess the manifesto for “legitimate purposes,” the New Zealand Classification Office said Saturday.

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In addition to prohibiting both the manifesto and video footage, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday that authorities are banning military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines like those used in the attacks.

Authorities have not publicly attributed the manifesto definitively to the Australian man facing charges. It described the reasoning for opening fire at the mosques targeted in the attacks.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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