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Who is responsible for shedding the blood of the innocent in New Zealand?

March 21, 2019 at 3:17 am

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

The world witnessed a major tragedy in New Zealand, claiming the lives of 50 and wounding dozens of others, including children during Friday prayers in two mosques.

Just weeks ago, a Muslim leader called on a Western capital to monitor mosques, because they produce extremism of course!

There is a critical link between the two events, as the Muslim communities here and in the West are suffering from a state of orphanage and abandonment. Let us remember the fact that all of the racist remarks made by Trump on several occasions against Muslims was not faced with any real or considerable reaction by the Muslim and Arab regimes as if the matter did not concern them in the least.

This has happened even though the people of the Muslim communities in the West are not only living there for their benefit but also because many of them are considered for their relatives in their homelands. This, however, doesn’t also lead to positively dealing with them by their regimes.

Discussing the regimes’ positions seems useless, which means we must look directly at the communities we are referring to and to their reactions towards the massacre that was committed. Less bloody cases preceded this massacre in recent years.

READ: Five observations regarding the New Zealand massacre

What we should say first is that no one can ignore the fact that part of the positions towards the Muslim communities in the West has been a result of some reckless acts attributed to Muslims in the past years, mainly during the new millennium, along with some of the discourse that accompanied them. However, this is only one part of the scene. While the discourse adopted by some groups claiming to represent Muslims has only produced some limited attacks here and there, we must remind the entire world that it is an isolated and marginalised discourse that does not express the essence of the Muslims’ position, neither at home or abroad. This is cited by the fact that millions of Western tourists have toured Arab and Muslim countries in the year that this discourse was spread, but they were not harmed, except for very few incidents. The result is that those who want to hold extremist discourse responsible for the attack in New Zealand are being unfair and must look for other reasons behind the attack.

One main reason is the racist right-wing discourse that is growing and spreading in the West. It is a racist discourse that may include non-Muslims. Today, Trump is a model of such discriminatory discourse, which promotes the slogan “America first” although the US is a country promoting immigration and immigrants. However, it was established through racist discrimination against the indigenous people.

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]

Worst of all regarding the racist rhetoric is the rhetoric based on religious ideology, which focuses on Muslims more than others. In New Zealand, a particular race was not targeted, but rather a specific religion. The martyrs of this attack were of every colour and race. The fact that the killer mentioned he was inspired by Trump, who is known for his racism towards Muslims as a religion, is enough evidence of this, although the killer did not hide his religious ideology.

One could say that what happened in New Zealand should give the Muslim communities in the West an opportunity to attack and condemn such racist discourse, specifically the phenomenon of “Islamophobia”. At the same time, it should be a phase for mobilising efforts to express one’s self and identity, without conflicting with others, but rather to establish positive co-existence by citizenship that does not contradict with the personal identity of others in the West, not only the Muslims.

READ: New Zealand foreign minister headed to Turkey to ‘confront’ Erdogan’s mosque shooting comments

Muslim communities in the West need to take a serious stand through their figures and actions to use the blood of the martyrs in New Zealand as a platform towards a better and clearer vision for their role and presence. This should be far from reckless reactions attributed to Muslims

I must note that any condemnation of what happened that ignores the most prominent example of racism and hatred (Trump, I mean) is incomplete condemnation. This also reminds me of our Arab regimes, who remained silent in the face of his racism, as well as his positions on our major issues, foremost of which is the issue of Palestine.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Arab on 20 march 2019

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