(CNN)The bombings on Easter Sunday of eight sites in Sri Lanka, including three churches, seemed designed not only to inflict mass casualties but also to send a message.
Racists and bigots believe that diverse societies don’t work. Frustrated that their howling at the moon wasn’t enough, they’re now picking up weapons in an attempt to prove themselves right. We can’t keep expressing shock and then moving on until the next outrage. We watched in astonished horror last year when a Nazi entered a US synagogue and shot dead 11 worshippers. And yet after the initial alarm, the world carried on like before.
These haters are destabilising our societies and concerted action needs to be taken before things get even worse.
To be clear, this isn’t just about western societies. Many Muslims see Christchurch as a small part of a global rising tide of Islamophobia perpetrated by insecure majorities. Let’s take a whistle-stop world tour from east to west.
To be clear, this isn’t just about western societies. Many Muslims see Christchurch as a small part of a global rising tide of Islamophobia perpetrated by insecure majorities.
In Myanmar, decades of hate speech and persecution culminated in 2017 with over 700,000 predominantly Muslim Rohingya having to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh after a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing. The implicated military in Myanmar has been given plenty of diplomatic cover by China, whose authorities are currently holding up to 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in euphemistically titled “transformation-through-education” camps in Xinjiang. It’s one of the stories of our age, subjugation on an epic scale.
India’s historic multi-faith character has taken a hit under the leadership of Narendra Modi, a man who was chief minister during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Muslims. His brand of Hindu nationalism has led to divisiveness rather than unity, leading to growing phenomena such as “cow-related violence”.
Many politicians across Europe have been gaining ground by peddling anti-Muslim messages. France’s Marine Le Pen compared Muslims spilling onto pavements from packed mosques after Friday prayers to Nazi occupiers. A key message of the Brexit campaign was the “threat” of Turkey joining the EU. Arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage once accused British Muslims of having “split loyalties”.
When I first heard the tragic news of the shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, I was preparing a lecture for my Introduction to Western Religions course on Jesus in the Qur’an. This lecture asks a deceptively simple question: How was Islam different from Christianity in the 7th century? As a historian of religion, I like to use questions like this to challenge my students to interrogate the definitions of religion that we use and how we understand the borders between religions like Christianity and Islam. Who built these borders, and when did they first appear?
The terrorist charged with waging a calculated, hateful attack on Muslims in their place of worship fancies himself a historian, but it will come as little shock to learn that, given his writings, it’s clear that he’s never really read the texts of ancient Muslims and Christians or studied the artifacts they left behind.
His 74-page manifesto, “The Great Replacement,” parrots the deeply flawed historical claims of white nationalist pseudo-intellectuals and their trolling internet henchmen. The manifesto smacks of white fragility. It spews vitriolic rhetoric about the malleable Other who seeks to invade and replace; the non-white bogeyman who threatens white identity. In this case, the Other takes the shape of Muslims, with devastating consequences.
The U.S. is no stranger to discrimination against Muslims. Here’s how you can fight back.
“Hello, brother.” Those were the words that a Muslim man said to a gunman before he was shot to death at the Al Noor mosque in New Zealand on Friday.
The gunman, an avowed white supremacist, went on to kill at least 49 others in a horrific attack on two mosques in the city of Christchurch during Friday prayers, a weekly tradition for those who practice Islam.
While the attack on Muslims may have been an unprecedented show of hate for New Zealand, the gunman’s Islamophobia is hauntingly familiar in the U.S.
In December, a woman in Dallas attacked a Muslim woman and told her to “go back to [her] country.” A month later, four people in upstate New York were charged with plotting to attack a Muslim community with explosives. Last April, three white militiamen in Kansas were charged with planning to bomb a Somali community’s apartment building.
That’s why now is as important as ever for people of all faiths to speak out against hate and violence against Muslims, according to Catherine Osborne. Osborne is a Christian and the campaign director for Shoulder to Shoulder, an interfaith coalition against Islamophobia in the U.S.
“Silence is action, in and of itself,” Osborne said of the response to Friday’s massacre in New Zealand. “Choosing not to speak out is an action that somebody is choosing to take.”
Jews in Pittsburgh and Muslim worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand, have forged a grim bond that transcends oceans and faiths: Mass killers have targeted their houses of prayer.
The Jewish community in Pittsburgh was roiled when 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in October. People of all religions rallied around them for support.
Now, members of Tree of Life have raised thousands of dollars for a Muslim community that lost 50 people, killed by a gunman Friday at Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch. Dozens more were injured.
“We feel compelled to come to the aid of those communities, just as our Jewish community was so compassionately supported only a few short months ago by people around the world of many faiths,” says a GoFundMe page set up by the congregation. “We recall with love the immediate, overwhelming support Tree of Life received from our Muslim brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh.”
The effort mirrors an outpouring of support from the Muslim community in Pittsburgh after the massacre there. Nearly a quarter-million dollars was raised by Muslim groups to help injured worshipers and grieving families.
“To the families going through the most difficult moments in your lives: the Jewish community of Pittsburgh is with you,” the Tree of Life funding page says. “Our hearts are with you. We hold you in our prayers.”
“Tree of Life members, and our friends who continue to comfort and bolster us as we recover, must now come together to support the Muslims of Christchurch,” the page says.
There have been other similar efforts launched in Pittsburgh. The Jewish Federation set up a relief fund within days of the attack in New Zealand, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
(CNN)Churches are opening their doors after mosques were told to close for security issues in the wake of the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attacks. Mosques are receiving messages of solidarity and flowers. A fundraiser for the victims is nearing $400,000. And a UK-based national forum for Christian-Muslim engagement is calling on Christians to go along to Friday prayers at their local mosques — a call the archbishop of Canterbury endorsed.
All those who have helped to spread the worldwide myth that Muslims are a threat have blood on their hands.
For Muslims, Friday Prayer is like Sunday Mass for Christians. It’s the day of community prayer. We travel to our local mosques, our religious sanctuary. Our families gather in the early afternoon to pray as a community. Kids run through the halls as the imam recites the Quran in Arabic. We eat together and mingle outside.
This week, as those of us in the United States attend Friday Prayer, the Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, are preparing for funerals.
People around the world are praying for the dead in Christchurch after terrorist attacks at two mosques. The authorities say a 28-year-old Australian walked into two mosques with assault rifles and killed at least 49 people. New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, called it “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
Thoughts and prayers are not enough. These attacks are the latest manifestation of a growing and globalized ideology of white nationalism that must be addressed at its source — which includes the mainstream politicians and media personalities who nurture, promote and excuse it.