This is an account of the attack on the Christchurch mosques in New Zealand in the eyes of a Muslim. You can read a Christian’s point of view here:
When the news broke about the forty-nine Muslims massacred in New Zealand, my heart was completely and utterly broken. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, like there was a heavy weight on my chest that was suffocating me slowly. I sat outside my second period classroom and held in tears of sadness, sympathy and most of all anger. I was angry, angry at the terrorist and at the situation. Thousands of people took to social media to express their sympathy for the victims of the shooting, while others congratulated the terrorist on killing “future terrorists” on Facebook and Twitter.
Hours felt like days on March 15, 2019. Every hour, another released detail would make the headlines on every major news channel, website, and blog in the country. There were interviews conducted with the heroes who were near the scene and managed to keep pressure on a gunshot wound until the paramedics arrived. Accounts that I follow on Instagram would post a picture about every victim and tell their story, their background, and the family that they left behind. There were accounts that stated that Daoud Nabi, a 71 year old originally from Afghanistan, greeted the terrorist with a “Welcome brother” when he initially entered the mosque. Little did he know that the terrorist would reply with bullets instead.
While there were countless stories of those who died, there were a few that stood out to me. Avverros (whose last name is unknown) is a 2-year-old hero who crawled on to her father after he had been shot multiple times. Moments earlier, the father shielded his son from getting shot. Both Avverros and his father are expected to make a full recovery. Mucad Ibrahim, a three year old born in Christchurch was the youngest of the victims. Mucad was “energetic, and liked to smile and laugh a lot,” according to his brother, who along with their father managed to escape. People — of all ages, races, and backgrounds –, were senselessly murdered. They were mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They were people who had long lives ahead of them who were taken too soon due to Islamophobia.
Days pass and the world falls back into its routine, but New Zealand didn’t. Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, spoke to the victims families and lead observations of the Muslim prayer. These actions exemplify the support of New Zealand for not only the Muslim citizens that live there but also Muslims around the world. Her empathetic actions also set a high standard for world leaders. Not only is Ardern supporting Muslims in an emotional way, she is fighting for them in the political world as well — something that politicians in other parts of the world lack. On March 21, 2019, Ardern announced an immediate ban on the sale of military style semi-automatic weapons, nearly 6 days after the events at Christchurch unfolded.
By banning the sale of military style semi-automatic weapons as quickly as they did, New Zealand is setting an example for countries around the United States who have experienced a mass shooting — including the United States. It took 6 days. After 26 people were killed at a U.S elementary school, there were widespread calls for universal background checks. More than six years later and nothing nearly as impactful has been passed in to federal law. But there have been steps. On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire in a Las Vegas crowd killing 58 people. Two months later, the Trump administration banned bump stocks — accessories that make semi-automatic guns fully automatic — nationwide.
As a citizen of the United States and a Muslim I shouldn’t have to feel like every time I step out of my house will be the last time my mother kisses me goodbye. As a teenager, I shouldn’t have to worry about losing my life just because I go to school. But I do worry. I have to worry because the adults — politicians and leaders — who are tasked with taking care of the problem aren’t doing anything about it.
The day of the Christchurch shooting where nearly fifty Muslims lost their lives shocked the world to its core. I wish I could say that it shocked me too, but that would be far from the truth. I wasn’t surprised. Angry or devastated? Sure, but surprised wasn’t one of the emotions I was feeling. I wasn’t surprised that someone with such deep hate gained access to a gun and shot his way into a mosque. I wasn’t surprised when a gunman opened fire at Majority Stoneman Douglas High School and killed seventeen people. As horrendous as it sounds, mass shootings have become a norm in our society. Whether it’s seventeen students and teachers or fifty Muslims, people drop a “our prayers are with them” and move on and that isn’t enough.
You don’t have to be Muslim to be heartbroken. You don’t have to be Muslim to be angry. The events that unfolded on March 15 was an attack against Muslims but it’s not enough to be infuriated on behalf of the Muslim community. You have to realize that the Muslim community is your community because belief should never matter more than humanity.