horrendous news hit me like a ton of bricks. I was on the freeway
driving back home from a hospital visit when the news anchor said: two
mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand were under attack and many Muslim
worshipers were feared dead.
50 worshipers of all ages were killed in cold blood, the youngest being a 3 year old Mucad (Mu’ad) Ibrahim. Here
are faces of the fallen.
A Personal Perspective
many Muslims around the world, I attended my local Friday prayers on
that sad and traumatic day knowing very well that Fridays could never
get too dark to submit one’s will to God. The mosque located in the
outskirt of Columbus, Ohio was not only in full capacity, but there were
also a number of children in attendance, though it was a school day. I
couldn’t tell how many parents brought their kids because they wanted to
keep them safely next to them and how many brought them in defiance of
the terrorists’ wishes.
When the salah (prayer) began and the Imam
(prayer leader) started reciting al-Fatiha (a short chapter in the
Qur’an that is similar to the Lord’s Prayer in the Christian faith) the
usual silence was broken by angelic voice of a child who was innocently
trying to outpace the Imam’s recitation. It was a breath of solace
beyond what any words could adequately describe. That feeling grew more
profound when the Imam concluded with this verse:
“O you who accepted faith, seek refuge in patience and prayer. Indeed, God is with the patient.” Qur’an 2:153
The Cesspool of Supremacy
manifestation of White Supremacist terrorism in America—the
fountainhead of a racial superiority complex— cannot be dismissed as
random acts of insanity or weaponized hate. Terrorism has only one name.
is no randomness in the targeting of Muslims in their mosques. True,
there are Muslims who carry terrorist acts in the name of Islam, though
they spare no one. Across the world, Muslims constitute the largest
number of terrorism victims.
is no randomness in targeting New Zealand as one of the safest places
on earth, where the police force are not even armed, where Muslims who
fled wars were welcomed to settle, find jobs and become part of this
exceptionally welcoming society.
There is no randomness in the
targeting of Christchurch as a city whose name clearly carries a
religious meaning. The terrorist clearly indicated in his manifesto that
one of his motives was to provoke a religious war.
There is no randomness in the terrorist being from Australia- a country that is nowadays more known for its rising bigotry than neighborhood roaming kangaroos.
Aside from its foundational racist history, Australia has overtly
racist high-ranking politicians, law-makers and media groups that are in
par with Fox News and Breitbart News.
Ever since Donald Trump
ran and won on an anti-immigrant platform that projected Muslims as a
national security threat, famously said “I think Islam hates us” in an
interview and promised to ban Muslims, White Supremacists and their
enablers went overboard with Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism and
against all those whom they perceived as their defenders. They saw
vigilantism receiving a Presidential seal of approval.
On March 13, two days before the Christchurch Muslim massacre, President Donald Trump
gave an interview to Breitbart News. He offered this desperately
ominous assertion that was apparently intended to blow the dog whistle
to the radical elements within his as his presidency hangs in the
balance: “I have the support of the police, the support of the military,
the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they
don’t play it tough – until they go to a certain point, and then it
would be very bad, very bad.”
Manipulating the Masses
most common method used by those who radicalize others is a slightly
modified version of the method used to manipulate minds for marketing,
absolute political loyalty, or for collective madness.
Then came Joseph
Goebbels—Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda—who amended Bernays’ strategy
and used it against European Jews. This would later compel Bernays to
coin a new name that is widely accepted today: public relations.
now live in a world where the leader of the most powerful nation on
earth constantly tells the masses that all media are counterfeit
enterprises that spread “fake news” except Fox News and Breitbart News.
The former for those who are enticed visually and the latter for those
who like to read.
The Manufactured Boogieman
of Muslims and vilification of Islam through blatant propaganda and
less graphic Islamophobic rhetoric is widespread and is a seldom frowned
upon in the West. Though this has been slowly improving, Muslims are
seldom invited to mainstream media platforms to represent themselves and
their faith. Muslims are more commonly defined by professional
propagandists of all shades of malice who propagate falsehood about
Islam and Muslims. They paint Muslims who are monolithic in moral
extremism. An Islam that is innately and historically violent.
one of Fox News’ hosts and President Trump’s staunch supporter and
unofficial adviser Jeanine Pirro’s Islamophobic tirade attempted to
brand Congresswoman Ilhan Omar as an extremist who could not be trusted
as a law-maker because she wears hijab as prescribed by the Qur’an.
course it did not take long for Trump to intervene. The US President
unabashedly took it to his Twitter feed pressuring Fox News executives
and urging his base to demand her return.
propagandists are part of the hate-mongering apparatus that encourages
White Supremacists to show up at mosques provocatively displaying their
assault weapons to harass and intimidate Muslim worshipers.
Imagine if some American-born, Second Amendment enthusiast, Muslims
were to show up in front of churches across US while openly carrying
their legally acquired large weapons and wearing their Islamic attires.
expose their political witch brew or debunk the disinformation spread
by these Islamophobic pundits may require an unyielding army of
well-informed goodwill advocates who are cool-headed social media savvy,
fact-oriented, and critical thinkers who expose them in every
Better Days Ahead
I still believe contrary to
common misconception, the human-being is innately good though toxic
environments and situations at home or outside could render him
heartless and wicked. I am even more convinced today after reading,
hearing and watching the overwhelming global support that was extended
to the Muslims who were impacted by this latest White Supremacist
It was overwhelmingly touching to see non-Muslims
trying to save Muslims and showing up in mosques to offer security while
people prayed inside. And who could forget Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
wearing a black hijab as compassionately consoled grieving family
members and promising them swift justice. She also declared Friday 22nd
of March a day of solidarity and the Azaan (Islamic call for prayer) to
be nationally broadcasting through TV New Zealand and Radio New Zealand
as Muslims went back to their mosques for Friday prayer. More
importantly, she successfully spearheaded a ban on semiautomatic weapons and all devices that enhance their lethal capacity.
Christchurch, White Supremacist terrorism has not only brought Muslims
and Christians much closer, but also Muslims and people of conscience of
all faiths and creeds.
At the global level, however, the scope of
indulgence and the magnitude of ignorance that propel Islamophobia
still remain scandalously ubiquitous. It is time to break free from the
intellectual and spiritual bondage of bigotry. We must grow in life not
as mere living-beings, but as human-beings with thoughts, sense of
empathy and conscience.
We are living in a period of history
that—properly aligned—could sift and differentiate the scum from the
decent; the anarchist from the transformative, the real terrorists from
the real counter-terrorist forces.
Despite the pains caused by the
terrorists, their objective to sow hate and violence has clearly
failed. The tides started turning against the purveyors of violent hate
and agents of anarchy. It is a matter of sustaining the momentum,
especially in the US.