New Zealand's Jewish community is outraged after a prominent mosque leader blamed the Israeli Mossad agency for being behind the terror attack on two mosques in the city of Christchurch, the Newshub news website reports.
The incident took place on Saturday during a rally organized by a group called Love Aotearoa Hate Racism in Auckland's Aotea Square.
Ahmed Bhamji, chairman of the Mt Roskill Masjid E Umar, gave a speech questioning where the gunman got his funding from.
He said he suspected it came from "Mossad" and "Zionist business", according to Newshub.
"I really want to say one thing today. Do you think this guy was alone...I want to ask you - where did he get the funding from?" he can be heard saying in video footage.
"I stand here and I say I have a very very strong suspicion that there's some group behind him and I am not afraid to say I feel Mossad is behind this," continued Bhamji.
A video of the speech was posted to Twitter, causing outrage in the Jewish community.
"These conspiracy theories are dangerous lies. They put the Jewish community at risk, at a time of heightened security concerns," New Zealand Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses told Newshub.
"Conspiracy theories - particularly the idea that Jews (whether through the Jewish state or otherwise) are a malevolent controlling force in the world - are at the very core of anti-Semitism," she added.
Newshub spoke to Love Aotearoa Hate Racism co-founder Joe Carolan, who said Bhamji was one speaker out of 30 and there were many different points of view at the event.
Asked whether he agreed with or believed the theory that Mossad were behind the attack, Carolan told Newshub "absolutely not".
Newshub contacted Bhamji, who accused the website of singling him out and said, "I made a statement, a lot of other people made statements.”
Bhamji defended his speech, saying an inquiry is needed into where the alleged gunman got his money from. He did not offer any proof to his speculation Mossad had funded the alleged gunman.
"Mossad is up to all these things," he said. "When I talk about Mossad, why should the Jews be upset about it? Give me an answer?"
50 Muslim worshipers were killed and at least others were 20 injured in the shootings at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch on March 15.
After the attack, a Qatari sociologist posted two videos on his popular YouTube channel in which he claimed that the Jews instigated the massacre against Muslims in New Zealand in order to create discord between the Muslims and the Christians.
Immediately after the attack, Jewish groups from New Zealand and beyond expressed their horror over the massacres at the mosques in Christchurch.
The New Zealand Jewish Council said it is “sickened and devastated” by the attacks.
“We offer our full assistance and support to the Muslim community and stand united with it against the scourge of terrorism and racism, which we must do all we can to banish from New Zealand,” Stephen Goodman, the president of The New Zealand Jewish Council told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder expressed “horror and revulsion” at the attacks.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the victims, and to the people of New Zealand. We must redouble efforts to combat hatred and division in our societies, from wherever it emanates,” he wrote in a statement.