“Non-violence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Two years ago in Christchurch, New Zealand was subjected to an horrific act of extreme violence, in the name of ideology.

Yesterday, another terrorist attack was carried out, this time in Auckland.

Both of these despicable acts of terrorism on New Zealand soil were committed by cowards.

Both targeted innocent people who were simply going about their lives. Both used weapons instead of words. Both used violence and terror in an attempt to further their extreme agendas.

Violence in the name of ideology is the polar opposite of free speech. It is the ultimate attempt to silence those who do not share your worldview.

Differences of political and religious opinion must be navigated with reason and dialogue. Never through violence. Never through fear.

Those who refuse to resolve ideological differences with words are the ones who turn to violence. Those who refuse to respectfully engage in civil dialogue with those they disagree with are the ones who become hateful extremists in the first place.

Freedom of speech — the fundamental human right to peacefully express one’s opinion — is an inherently non-violent principle. This is why we seek to protect it.

The blame for each of these horrendous attacks is solely on the terrorists. They alone are responsible for their actions. The Muslim community of Aotearoa — still grieving and healing from March 15 — is no more represented by this extremist individual than our Australian community were represented by the Christchurch shooter.

Our deepest sympathies are with the victims of this attack and their whānau, and all those affected by it.