PewDiePie 'Sickened' by New Zealand Mosque Shooter Telling Worshippers to Follow Him Before Opening Fire

The YouTuber PewDiePie has said he was left sickened by having his name mentioned by a gunman who quipped that viewers should follow the vlogging star before killing dozens in an anti-Muslim shooting spree in Christchurch, New Zealand.

"Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch," PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, tweeted Friday.

"I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person. My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy," he added.

At least 40 individuals have been killed in what the country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called "one of New Zealand's darkest days," characterizing the attack that targeted Muslim worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch as a "terrorist attack."

The Associated Press reported three men and a woman have been taken into custody in the wake of the massacre. Authorities have not formally identified the shooter but a 28-year-old white Australian man has claimed responsibility for the attack, uploading a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto and a graphic livestream of the killings filmed from a bodycam.

During the video, in which the shooter executes terrified worshippers inside a mosque in the New Zealand capital before walking outside on the street to open fire on passersby, the suspect can be heard to say "remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie."

"Subscribe to PewDiePie" spread across the internet among YouTube fans as Kjellberg sought to battle the Bollywood production company T-Series in subscriber numbers on the video sharing platform. The Swedish national, who currently lives in England, commands a subscriber base of over 89 million individuals.

Kjellberg has looked to distance himself from the "Subscribe to PewDiePie" meme. In October 2018 the content creator released a video entitled "DON'T Subscribe to Pewdiepie." He said in the video that "The whole meme, it's getting out of control. I'll admit to that at least."

It is not clear why the New Zealand shooter referenced the meme in his livestream. "Subscribe to PewDiePie" has been associated with disruption and chaos. Grand Theft Auto Online and printers around the globe were hacked to say "Subscribe to Pewdiepie." In December last year hackers posted a fake article on the website of the Wall Street Journal asking readers to support PewDiePie.

It is not the first time the Swedish YouTuber has been associated with the far-right. In 2017 Kjellberg lost lucrative sponsorship deals, including an agreement with Disney, over videos that contained anti-Semitic tropes or Nazi imagery.

At the end of 2018 faced criticism for promoting the YouTube channel E;R, which had espoused anti-Semitic views. "PewDiePie is YouTube's top creator," Right Wing Watch reporter Jared Holt tweeted in December. "On Sunday, he promoted the channel of a racist anti-Semite. Pewdiepie's shout-out earned the channel more than 15,000 new subscribers at the time of this post," he added.

Masjid al Noor
A police officer secures the area in front of the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. - Attacks on two Christchurch mosques left at least 49 dead on March 15, with one gunman -- identified as an Australian extremist -- apparently livestreaming the assault that triggered the lockdown of the New Zealand city. TESSA BURROWS/AFP/Getty Images