A RELIGIOUS leader has called for more to be done to combat Islamophobia after mosques were targeted in a terrorist attack.

Some 50 people were killed after a gunman opened fire at the Islam places of worship in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday.

Now Bashir Goni, chairman of the Colchester Mosque in Priory Street, has criticised people for dehumanising Muslims.

He said: “We are devastated by this brutal and merciless killing of innocent and defenceless worshippers.

“Our deepest, heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones.

“Words cannot express the agony they are going through at this moment.

“We take comfort and solace in knowing the victims of this heinous and sadistic terrorist attack will be granted Paradise.”

He added: “Recent times have seen increasing levels of anti-religious sentiments on the rise.

“We witnessed the horrific attacks at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Muslim Welfare House in London.

“Minority communities of all descriptions continue to be persecuted around the world. The terrorist attack in Christchurch against innocent worshippers was calculated and well planned.

“The perpetrator spewed his hatred for Muslims in his manifesto.

“He live streamed his attack while hundreds of other extremists and their sympathisers watched and cheered him on.

“This massacre was inspired by hatred of Islam and Muslims, and such level of bigotry has been fuelled by callous academics, reckless politicians as well as media outlets who regularly feature pundits experts who have demonised and dehumanised Muslims with impunity, masquerading their vile mantra as sound wisdom.

“The massacre of Muslims did not just begin by the bullets that were fired from the barrel of these guns in New Zealand, it was years in the making, inspired by Islamophobic media reports, columns of hatred in printed news, Muslim hating politicians and unchecked social media bigotry.

“We are now reaping the awful outcome of systemic and institutionalised Islamophobia woven into our societies, this racism and xenophobia that has been tolerated by so many for far too long.

“We must not be shy in calling out this attack for what it is - a sadistic act of terror, stoking up hatred and suspicion of Muslims.”

Mr Goni called for people of all religions to unite.

He said: “People of faiths and none must all come together, united and state emphatically that an attack against one community is an attack against all of us.

“We must never allow these terrorists to break our hard earned and fragile peaceful co-existence.”