March 25, 2019

Christchurch Shootings: Thoughts, a Prayer & Tangible Ways We Can All Help

The darkest day in New Zealand calls for mourning, but there are 5 tangible ways that we can truly help.

Christchurch Shootings: Thoughts, a Prayer & Tangible Ways We Can All Help

Just like with Grace – I remind myself, write when nothing makes sense.

I am an emotional person and I cry after almost every shooting that happens, whether that be in the USA, Australia or anywhere in the world. Today my heart is heavy as I mourn what has happened in my own backyard, my home since I was five years old, on streets I have walked.

I have always had a complicated relationship with my faith. I am the first to stand up, critique, question and downright oppose my community. But this is heartbreaking. My mother wears a headscarf, my father is an Imam at our local mosque and the reality is this could have been my whānau. This was a targeted attack, on the holiest Islamic day, a day when they knew hundreds would be at the mosque. But worst of all I know I would have been safe in this because I have the privilege of looking Caucasian. That infuriates me.
Forty-nine people will never hold their loved ones again because they don’t hold that privilege. Because of the building they choose to pray in. To all those grieving, the families, the friends, I am so, so sorry. If anyone needs anything, someone to vent too, someone to hug, please get in touch.

A Prayer

I feel simultaneously full of words and utterly empty so I will say this, a prayer Muslims say for our dead;

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ

“We are Gods and to Him, we will return.”

May they rest in peace. Kia Kaha Christchurch.

Tangible Solutions because I need this too

#1: Send Love

I have been moved to tears almost as much by the messages I have received, the police response and Jacinda Arderns speech as the event itself. Thank you so much New Zealand. Today is a day to hold people close. To send love to everyone.

#2: Reach out to Muslims

Today is also a day to hold strangers close too. If you know any Muslims, flick them a message. My parents have received dozens and I know every single one has touched our hearts.

If you don’t know anyone, attend vigils, lay flowers and mostly, if you see a Muslim, especially a female wearing a headscarf, make sure they know that we are there for them. That this is all of our homes.

#3: Stand Up & Report

It is important to make it clear that we don’t support and will not tolerate these ideologies, this hate. Even more important, especially today is to report things that seem out of the ordinary or suspicious to the police. We need to look after each other and keep everyone safe.

#4: Donations

A Give A Little page has been set up for the families and there has already been an outpouring of love. If you have anything to give please do. At least forty-nine people need to be buried and I am sure that any support will be gratefully received.

#5: Education

My family immigrated to New Zealand in 2001 because it is supposed to be a safe place because the country I was born in is not. Generally, kiwis have been kind to us and while I agree with Jacinda Ardern that this is not New Zealand I also think we have to accept that racism and white supremacy exist here. My mother who wears a headscarf has been stared at, shouted at and on occasion told to go back to her own country. That is of course, despite us being citizens for fourteen years,despite us living in this country for eighteen.

As always when I am left heartbroken, tear-sodden and I ask the question of why and how we can prevent this from happening I land again and again on love and education. People fear what they don’t understand and many people do not understand Islam. That is our fault as Muslims, but also the fault of the media and of course those people themselves. Although I try and find empathy for them, although I try my best to understand why they did this and placate myself with the explanation that hurt people hurt people. They are also not blameless. Instead of searching for answers with warmth and curiosity they chose to latch onto Xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia and hate. We need love, not hate, on all sides. We need to remember the million and one ways that as humans we are almost exactly the same. We all want to hold our loved ones, be safe and happy. Eat sandwiches, whether hummus and falafel, peanut butter or both. We need to focus on these things and not the insignificant ways that we are different because, at the end of the day, we are not different at all. In the words of Dumbledore after Cedric Diggory’s death,

‘Although we may come from different countries and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one.’