A Hamilton City Councillor who encouraged the public to stop mourning the victims of the Christchurch terror attack has apologised.
James Casson was roundly criticised for a Facebook post in which he said tears, memorials and laying flowers for the 50 people shot dead are exactly what the alleged gunman wants and New Zealand should "carry on with life as normal".
"Each mosque protected, the alleged shooter wins," the former police officer wrote. "Banning semiautomatic firearms, a win for the shooter."
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Casson named the alleged shooter 20 times in his since-deleted post.
His remarks were met with outrage from the Muslim community and from his fellow Councillors, who called him a "dickhead" and accused him of "feeding racism".
Late on Monday evening Casson apologised in a lengthy post to his official Council Facebook post.
"I know that my previous posts have caused offence to the Muslim faith and wider public which was never my intention," he wrote. "I offer my apologies to all."
He said he would be visiting Hamilton's Boundary Rd Mosque this week to meet with Waikato Muslim Association president Dr Asad Mohsin, "not to ask for forgiveness but to offer my sincere apologies and hopefully explain myself".
"People who know me know I am not a racist person," he wrote. He then quoted a supportive email he said had been sent to him by an Egyptian police officer he worked with at the United Nations in East Timor.
In the wake of the controversy, sleuths unearthed a 2016 post on Casson's personal Facebook page in which he called Middle Eastern refugees "scum".
Casson's boss, Hamilton Mayor Andrew King, said his remarks may have breached the Council's code of conduct but it would be up to the public to make a complaint.