A Muslim Perspective

I have many words, but at the same time I have none that can truly convey the hurt in my heart.

Yesterday, I was shocked. I was confused and lost and could not wrap my head around any of it. “How did this happen here? This isn't something that would happen in NZ,” I kept saying.

Today, I reflect.

Today, hindsight has been confronting.

I look back today, and I see the 'telltale signs' that New Zealand is not and has never been the 'safe haven' we pride ourselves in being.

I look back and I remember the hate speech my mum has received in the street on several occasions for wearing the hijab.

I remember the “Go back to your country!”s that the former refugee community I am so heavily involved with receive, far too often.

I remember the endless times I have been hushed after saying “Allahu Akbar” or other religious phrases in a public place, in fear of being feared.

I remember the “Haha lighten up! Take a joke! Don't be so PC!”s I've received over my life.

I think of our tangata whenua and their life experience. Their disproportionate representation in our prisons and their disproportionate health statistics.

I think of all of the media that uses microaggressive language towards minority groups in their reporting.

I think of all of the times I felt ashamed or embarrassed to say that I am a Muslim, especially growing up.

I think of the fact that this attack was premeditated and planned for a period of 2 years (allegedly) and it was not detected because the focus of central intelligence was elsewhere.

This is not to say that there is no hope or that New Zealand is a bad place or even that racist views are the majority. That is simply not the case. It is to say that we cannot heal if we do not diagnose. It is to say that in order to all feel safe again, we have to stop sweeping things like this under the rug, or 'not sweating the little stuff' and we need to make some changes. Even if that means being 'too PC'.

The past two days, our country has been flooded with love. We have been unified all over and we have not felt afraid to be vulnerable. It is this that we need to focus on from this point on. Be loving. Be kind. Be inclusive.

I feel truly grateful and honoured to have received as many communications as I have, firstly to convey love and support and secondly to offer support and help. This is my New Zealand.

Arohanui to my Muslim brothers and sisters. Arohanui to my Christian, Jewish, Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu and members of any other religion (or lack thereof) brothers and sisters.

This article first appeared in Issue 5, 2019.
Posted 9:43pm Thursday 21st March 2019 by Ala Ghandour.