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Five observations regarding the New Zealand massacre

March 20, 2019 at 3:33 am

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern greets a first responder during a visit at the Justice and Emergency Services precinct on 20 March 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand [Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images]

New Zealand has become part of the Jordanian debate lately. In the past, the name of this remote and quiet country was only mentioned at butchers when they offer you either a locally reared lamb or one from New Zealand, slaughtered in Jordan or Dubai. This time, the massacre claimed the lives of 50 Muslims and wounded the same number at the hands of a racist criminal, full of the culture of hatred and a level of intolerance that reaches murder.

I held off from writing about the events in New Zealand to observe how various parties dealt with the same incident. I also wanted to monitor and reflect on the conclusions and inferences resulting from the debate taking place in the Jordanian and Arab arena regarding the crime. What did I find?

First, the feeling of anger swept over the entire Jordanian and Arab nations, including both the Muslim and Christian communities, but they did not clearly express this. They did not stage demonstrations or organise vigils except at a minimal level. Instead, as usual, social media became the arena in which they voiced their various positions, emotions, and remarks. We did not see any official measures to deal or address the crime, not even, at the very least, the same measures they had taken after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris a few years ago.

A vigil for the victims of the terror attack on New Zealand mosques in London, UK on 15 March 2019 [Tayfun Salcı/Anadolu Agency]

A vigil for the victims of the terror attack on New Zealand mosques in London, UK on 15 March 2019 [Tayfun Salcı/Anadolu Agency]

Second, we did not see a single state of alert on Arab television, unlike major satellite stations such as CNN or BBC. These television stations devoted dozens of hours of live and direct broadcast, covering the incident and what followed. They covered the reactions and remarks of various countries and leaders, as well as traced the killer back to his hometown.

They tried to monitor the phenomenon of Islamophobia in the Western world and tried to find the links between the growth of Islamic extremism, the increased rates of immigration and asylum, and between the emergences of white supremacy. Donald Trump was always blamed the most for spreading this anti-immigrant anti-refugee culture and downplaying white supremacy. The official Arab media was very brief in its coverage, followed protocol and was to a great extent unprofessional. This is because its coverage aligned with the biases of its governments, either being with or against political Islam.

READ: The New Zealand massacre is an example of hateful racism in the West

Thirdly, I found an Islamist movement that was joyous and gloating, even though all of the victims of the massacre, without exception, were Muslims prostrating and bowing in worship. They were joyous because they can now gloatingly say, “Didn’t we tell you that terrorism is not limited to Islam and Muslims and is no less dangerous and challenging for the Christian West?” Although those who accuse Islam and Muslims of terrorism are a minority of politicians and researchers, the truth is that many terrorists are Muslims and the majority of their victims are also Muslims.

These people found the New Zealand incident to be a means to alleviate the attention on the crimes of Arab and Muslims terrorists. They believe that as an Australian terrorist is killing Muslims in New Zealand, there is no need to condemn and exaggerate in the criticism of Daesh and Al-Nusra Front’s terrorism. From now and until further notice, they will remind the world of the New Zealand incident every time you talk about Daesh’s crimes and the terrorism that hides behind Islam and religion.

Fourth, while, on the one hand we see a state of denial, which is expected to grow in danger and depth amid our ranks, on the other, we see a similar state of denial recently led by US President Donald Trump personally when he tried to downplay white supremacy by describing them as a small minority and individuals.

He did not listen or care about the reports and research that refers to the rampant Shu’ubiyya, the growing hostility towards foreigners, and the increasing isolation of refugees. They even referred to the ethnic supremacy within Western nations and justified the inhumane measures against them and their right to be of a different race, ethnicity, and religion. Trump subscribes to this school of thought, which inspired the New Zealand killer and other American killers and terrorists before him that terrorised American anti-racism media and political institutions.

People pay tribute close to the Al Noor Mosque, following a mass shooting on March 15, in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 16, 2019 [Peter Adones / Anadolu Agency]

People pay tribute close to the Al Noor Mosque, following a mass shooting on March 15, in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 16, 2019 [Peter Adones / Anadolu Agency]

Fifth, we did not see enough Arab coverage and remarks regarding the reactions of the community and government in New Zealand towards the horrific crime. We did not see pictures of flowers piled up like mountains in front of the mosques nor did we see popular gatherings. We did not witness spontaneous forms of expressing protest through songs music, and mobilisation in rejection of the horrific act.

We did not see many comments regarding the behaviours of the Prime Minister and her visit to the Muslim community and their mosques; all of these actions were not covered or commented on. However, we would not say that all New Zealanders are killers or sympathisers. This is completely untrue, as these communities have killers within them but also have great humanity too, as cited by the fact that they welcomed Muslim immigrants and refugees when the doors and crossings leading into most Arab and Muslim countries were closed.

READ: Muslim scholars union urges ban on Islamophobia

Rime, did not receive the images of roses accumulated mountains in front of mosques, and we did not see popular gatherings and expressions of protest spontaneous singing and music and rally to reject the terrible act … We have not seen comments Many of the behaviours of the Prime Minister and her visits to the Muslim community and mosques, did not receive all these forms of coverage and comment, as if we keep saying that all New Zealanders killers, or sympathizers of the killer, and this is not true at all, these communities, where racism is deadly, As well as in the sense that it was the kiss of Muslim immigrants and refugees, when they blocked the doors and crossings of most Arab and Islamic countries.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Addustour on 19 March 2019

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.