Words cannot express adequately the pain and anguish I feel at Fridays’ heinous attacks in New Zealand. I share the anguish of my fellow Muslims at those who have orchestrated such diabolical carnage in a place of prayer. As a husband, a father and a grandfather, I can only imagine the pain and suffering felt by the families affected by this tragedy. In the weeks and months ahead, we must all stand together and raise aloft those values which must form the core of Islamic belief — compassion, respect and dignity. If we fail in this, then terror is victorious.
Those ideologues and demagogues who set themselves above the rights of man and the laws of God have no place in our world, no matter who their victims or what their ideologies. Their targets reflect the increasing polarisation of our population, where hatred and fear can be spread and exacerbated at the click of a mouse, and where atrocities are streamed live for the voyeuristic thrills of a silent audience. If it is true that “evil only wins when good men do nothing”, then let us now raise our collective voices, both Christian and Muslim alike, in our disgust and condemnation of these attacks.
Let us move away from the insidious culture that allows everyday hatred to creep into how we think about each other, instead focusing our thoughts on the shared humanity which ties us to each other more deeply than any superficial differences might divide. I echo the words of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who spoke about the ostracisation of immigrants and the Muslim community. “They are us,” she said and I add, “and we are you”.
This is a time not only for good government, but more importantly, for good governance. We must face up to the divisions blighting our world. We must all work together to defeat hatred and give hope. This is not a mission of optimism, but one of necessity.
We may never properly come to terms with the senseless hatred that fuelled this outrage. However, we must offer our support to the victims of these attacks as they struggle to recover from the physical and mental trauma. Let us draw strength from our faith and our shared values.
Most importantly, these terrible attacks must not be allowed to feed the hateful inhumanity of the few. Rather, these images of death and destruction must strengthen our compassion and elevate our common humanity. Instead of retribution and prolonged vitriol, let us call now for peace and decency, standing together as one. When all things have been forgotten, we can only ask ourselves, “What part did I play? Did I help or was I part of the problem?” Now is the time to cling onto our shared ideals, our hopes and the ties that bind us all, no matter where we come from or who we are. Now we work to overcome this darkness and remember that, in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
By: El Hassan bin Talal