Hawzah News Agency (London, UK) – Social media users have condemned Western tabloid newspapers for their coverage of the New Zealand mosque attacks and their attempts to "humanize" the main suspect.
At least 49 people were killed and 40 others were injured in the twin attacks by Australian suspect Brenton Tarrant, 28, who allegedly shot dozens of worshippers in the New Zealand district of Christchurch.
Labelling him an "angelic boy who grew into an evil far-right mass killer" British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, released a photo of Tarrant as a young boy and described him as "a likeable and dedicated personal trainer running free athletic programs for kids".
Reacting to the coverage, British columnist Owen Jones condemned the tabloid's coverage saying it had displaced the focus from the victims to the perpetrator, who he called a "terrorist".
British creative director Nooruddean Choudry also criticized the tabloid's headline saying that while the victims were ignored, Tarrant was being humanized.
On Saturday, the Daily Mail reported that the alleged attacker's grandmother had reacted in disbelief to the incident, describing Tarrant as "a good boy".
While the majority of social media reactions have focused on British newspapers, Australian tabloids were also criticized for their coverage.
Like the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail, several Australian tabloids focused on the main suspect, rather than the killings and included images taken from the livestream of the incident, despite requests from New Zealand and Australian police to not share the footage.
The front page of the West Australian showed images of the attack and reported Tarrant's description of himself as: "Just an ordinary White man, 28 years old. Born in Australia to a working class, low income family."
Similarly, the Australian Courier Mail called the suspect a "working class madman", while the Herald Sun's front page read: "Livestream slaughter".
The Australian suspect, who appeared in a Christchurch District Court on Saturday, was charged with murder. He was remanded without a plea until his next appearance in the South Island city's High Court on April 5.
Handcuffed, shoeless, and wearing a white prison suit, Tarrant grinned but did not speak as he flashed an upside-down "okay" signal, a symbol used by white power groups across the globe.