The New Zealand “Gunman” Is a Terrorist
Everyone who spews vile, hateful rhetoric have their hands tainted with the blood of the victims from the mosque attacks in Christchurch.
On March 15, 50 people were killed by a Christian, far-right, white supremacist when they were engaged in Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. More than three years ago, when gunmen killed 130 people in France, media had no issues calling the perpetrators what they were, Islamic terrorists, highlighting both the faith and the ideology of the attackers.
The whole world stood by France in its moment of grief, with social media feeds going through the roof as people embraced the French flag in their identity, especially on Facebook. There was no ambiguity in the grief expressed across the globe at the predominantly Christian lives that were lost at the hands of terrorist perpetrators belonging to the Islamic State group. While there is outrage expressed at the New Zealand massacre, it seems the world is more shocked at the fact that a terrorist attack happened in the small island nation, rather than the hate crime targeted at innocent Muslims.
Standing in solidarity with New Zealanders where worshippers were killed by an Australian citizen, Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the perpetrator as an “extremist right-wing, violent terrorist.” It is remarkable that the Australian prime minister went as far as using the word “terrorist” to describe him.
In contrast, the irresponsible, indifferent and Islamophobic Australian senator from Queensland, Fraser Anning, had no qualms about blaming the attack on New Zealand’s immigration policies from the past that allowed Muslims to immigrate into that country. “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program that allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” Anning said in a statement soon after the Friday massacre.
US President Donald Trump had this to say of the tragic incident: “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand.” Warmest sympathy? Best wishes? Even the tragic loss of lives could not move Trump to call out the Muslim identity of the victims and express at least some perfunctory sympathy for them and their families.
Trump has never hidden his disdain for Muslims while openly promoting white nationalism. It is farfetched to expect the president to call out the gunman for what he is: a Christian, white, right-wing terrorist. In fact, when Trump was asked if he saw white nationalism as a rising threat in the world, he doubled down on his core fundamentalist beliefs and responded: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
It is no wonder that the Christchurch shooter’s 74-page manifesto lauded Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” Whether Trump acknowledges it or not, his hateful rhetoric following his ascension to power has had serious consequences, and his hands are tainted with the blood of the Muslim women, men and children who lost their lives while praying in mosques on that fateful Friday.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 17, 2019
Why hate crimes against Muslims won’t stop
As long as there are leaders like Trump and Anning who unabashedly spread falsehood with their vile rhetoric against Muslims, the world will continue to see more incidents where innocent people are targeted with hate crimes.
As long as countries defend and accept hate speech as an individual’s right to freedom of expression, the world will continue to breed more of the likes of Brenton Tarrant and Anders Behring Breivik — the terrorists behind the New Zealand massacre and the 2011 Norway attack.
As long as the world refuses to acknowledge that guns have no place in a civilized society and allow people to own weapons that can extinguish multiple lives in a matter of moments, the Christchurch attack will not be the last of its kind.
As long as the world media continues to paint Christian, white, right-wing terrorists as outliers and tries to “humanize” them, Caucasians and Christians will never have to bear the brunt of the actions of people like Tarrant. They can offer their prayers and sympathies to those killed and move on with their lives without fear.
As long as the media continues to describe the actions of every Muslim extremist as a reflection on the entire Islamic population, every Muslim in the world will have to live in fear of bearing the brunt of those actions just because they share the same faith.
March 15, 2019, was a sad day not only because of the loss of 50 innocent Muslims engaged in prayers at the hands of a hate-filled man, but the world got to witness yet again the double standards in media reporting and the words of fanatics in positions of power like Trump and Anning.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.