It’s been over a week since the horrendous terror attack in two Christchurch Mosques killing 50 people. This attack on the Muslim community in Christchurch was both heartbreaking and sickening. People around the world are understandably shocked and appalled by what happening.
Many were surprised that such an attack could have happened in New Zealand. I was never of the view that New Zealand was safe or immune to the sorts of terror attacks like that committed in Christchurch on March 15th. It was however, utterly heartbreaking to learn that it had occurred. Its particularly gut wrenching to read of the acts of kindness and bravery by some of the victims such as Naeem Rashid who lost his own life trying to stop the gunman.
Thousands have gathered throughout New Zealand in vidils to mourn the dead and show solidarity with the Muslim community. The attack has even united the country’s rival biker gangs who are vowed to work together to protect Muslims attending Mosques.
Much has already been said about this act of Far Right terror against the Christchurch Muslim community. I have more to say about the responses and developments post this event. However I end this by quoting a Muslim friend of mine in New Zealand, who posted the below on social media hours after the attack. These words will stay with me for a very long time:
I think we always feared there would be a terrorist attack. But we always feared it would be someone claiming to be Muslim, and that we would bear the impact of the aftermath, the xenophobia, the hate crimes, the calls to fight in foreign lands and the calls to go back home (to where?).
We thought we would be the target of the aftermath and feared what that would be.
We never thought that it would be us, going about our daily rituals. Jummah is sacred. It is the first thing that we try to establish when we form a community. It is the signal that we have enough Muslims to form a community. It is the place we meet every week.
The attacker choose to hit the heart of our community and the heart of our faith, which is the daily rituals of connecting with Allah (SWT). He choose to do it when we were together so it could be as gruesome as it could be.
Last year when I called out Islamophobia to people I thought were my tribe/friends, it fell pretty much of deaf ears. I was either ignored or dismissed (not by everyone but by enough people).
This is the result of all those horrible NZ Herald opinion pieces, all that vitriolic internet meme culture, all those horrible beliefs about Muslims.
This stuff goes on with violent consequence in the place of my ancestors. People related to me have died because of it, and the people responsible are now in high political office (I’m looking at you Modi).
And now it’s happening here. And people we are related to have died again.
Next time I call out Islamophobia don’t dare tell me “we are a broad church”.