Christchurch harbored white supremacists before massacre

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The leafy New Zealand city where a self-proclaimed racist fatally shot 50 people at mosques during Friday prayers is known for its picturesque meandering river and English heritage. For decades, Christchurch has also been the center of the country’s small but persistent white supremacist movement.

An expert on such fringe groups says it’s probably more than coincidence that the accused mosque shooter settled in the region, known for a whiter demographic than the country’s north.

The attack has upended New Zealand’s image as one of the world’s safest and most tolerant countries. It also has highlighted apparent failings by security and intelligence services to view white supremacists as a real threat or to take seriously warnings from Muslim groups of a rise in Islamophobic and xenophobic incidents in recent years.