The recent attack on two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand has once again unveiled the heinous face of white supremacists and nationalists. Two mosques have become the victim of a terrorist attack wherein forty-nine innocent worshipers have lost their lives. Forty-two of them were massacred in mosque Al-Noor while seven in the Linwood Islamic Center which is three miles away from the former. The victims are from different countries including Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, India, and Afghanistan. The perpetrator of the attack Brenton Tarrant– a 28-year Australian born was planning this attack for last two years. Just before the attack, he shared his manifesto with the government. The gun he used in the attack was printed with the names of historic Christian figures who fought against Muslim armies. This includes Gastón IV, Viscount of Béarn and Pelayu who was considered an epitome of valor and heroism in Christian wars against the Muslims. This shows the real motivation behind this carnage and incompetency of New Zealand government and their law enforcement agencies in dealing the matter.
The wave of Islamophobia and crimes against Muslims is not new. It dates back to the fall of erstwhile Soviet Union and subsequent change in geopolitical and geo-strategic spheres identified by Samuel P. Huntington in his article ‘clash of civilization’. This made Islam and Muslims as a potential enemy of the West and Christianity. This gulf was further widened by the incident happened in New York on September 11, 2001. To what extent Muslims were involved in 9/11 is a matter of another subject but how the whole Muslim community was labeled as a terrorist matter a lot here. The despicable behavior of Western media and right-wing activists in the aftermath of 9/11 created hate and animosity in the minds of general populace against Muslims and immigrants. This has increased Islamophobic and xenophobic tendencies in American, European and Australian societies and led to crimes against Muslims and other immigrants in the form of rallies and violent confrontation. Vilification, melee, attacks, stabbing, verbal abuse, discrimination, vandalism, arson, shooting, kidnapping, and bombing. In the United States from 2001 to 2017 fifty-six incidents of Islamophobic nature were reported wherein fourteen people had lost their lives while thirty-two got injured. While in the United Kingdom twenty-nine incidents were reported during the same period wherein seven people had died and forty-seven injured. In Australia, eight incidents against Muslims have been reported in the last two years wherein more than ten Muslims were injured.
The recent wave of nationalism and white supremacy has create Islamophobic and xenophobic tendencies in Western societies that can push the world into the fire.
The irresponsible remarks after such incidents further add fuel to the fire. In the aftermath of the recent attack—remarks uttered by the far right wing Australian senator Fraser Anning will further widen the gulf between two communities. He declared Muslims responsible for the attack at a time when whole Muslim comity was in shock and traumatized by the massacre. Such absurd remarks replete with hate, filth, bigotry, animosity, and racism are pushing the world into the fire. The recalcitrant behavior of Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Christchurch attack and the way he turned a blind eye on white supremacy and nationalism shows the burgeoning intolerance in American society and thinking of western intelligentsia. He does not think white nationalism is a rising global threat and his reluctance to declare this carnage an act of terrorism shows the dual standard of the West regarding terrorism. The attacker was inspired by Trump’s manifesto of white supremacy. He hailed Trump as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose. In response to growing bigotry in America, Muslim Americans called for action. Nihad Awad, executive director Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in reply to Trump, “you should condemn this not only as a hate crime but as a white supremacist terrorist attack—you need to condemn this community today.’’
On the other hand, Muslim leader across the world voiced concern over the targeting of Muslims. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized Islamophobia and called the West to act to prevent a similar attack. He further said ‘’if measures are not taken right away, news of other disasters will follow this one.’’ After Friday prayer hundreds of protesters gather in Istanbul chanting condemnation and waving slogans saying ‘’stop global terrorism’’ and “crusader savagery” in New Zealand. Prime Minister of Pakistan also showed fierce reservations on growing Islamophobic tendencies. He condemned the attack by saying that “I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam & 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim. This has been done deliberately to also demonize legitimate Muslim political struggles,”
The western white supremacists and right-wing nationalists are desperately apprehensive of Islam’s growth and proliferation in the Christian world. According to a report of the US-based Pew Research center, Islam is the world fastest growing religion. It is broadening its influence everywhere as it is speedily growing across the globe. This will also lead to an upsurge in the crimes against Muslims in Europe and America. In this precarious situation, collectively, the Muslim leaders should use the plate farm of OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) to unite the whole community on the single ground and dismantle their divergences in broader interests of Muslim Ummah. Individually, it is the responsibility of every Muslim to show the real teachings of the Holy Prophet that are love, affection, sacrifice, brotherliness, humanity, cooperation, and peace. Muslims must protect the minorities in their countries so that they shall be protected in the countries where they are in minority.
The writer “Syed Usama Shirazi ” is an Independent Researcher, based in Islamabad, Pakistan. His area of interest is Defense and Strategic Studies in South Asian context.