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Members of the Muslim community embrace outside the community centre in Christchurch following the March 15 terror attacks (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Members of the Muslim community embrace outside the community centre in Christchurch following the March 15 terror attacks (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

SocietyMarch 19, 2019

Hear their words: Muslim voices on the Christchurch attacks

Members of the Muslim community embrace outside the community centre in Christchurch following the March 15 terror attacks (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Members of the Muslim community embrace outside the community centre in Christchurch following the March 15 terror attacks (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Calls to foreground the voices and perspectives of our Muslim community in the days following the Christchurch attacks have been heeded by many newsrooms, but are all too soon drowned out again by the sheer number of headlines. Here we’ve highlighted Muslim voices from across the media in the wake of the white supremacist terror attack on two Christchurch mosques.

This list will continue to be updated. If you find any pieces you think should be included, please let us know:

Sohail Din: For us, life in New Zealand will never be the same

“Our mosques and communities in NZ have always been heavily monitored, scrutinised, and screened for extremism by ministries, organisations, and people. We protected ourselves from Muslim terrorists, but as a Muslim, my question is this: what was put in place to protect New Zealand Muslims from terrorists?”

A member of Christchurch’s Muslim community stands across the road from the Dean Street mosque. (Photo: MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Anjum Rahman: We warned you. We begged. We pleaded. And now we demand accountability

“Time and again, the media have asked me whether or not I was surprised that this attack happened in our country. I will explain to you why I was not surprised. I will try to convey to you my absolute blinding rage.”

Faisal Halabi: What it means to be a Muslim New Zealander in 2019

“A lot of discussions have been had about how the Christchurch attacks are simply examples of deeper racism in New Zealand that’s been brewing beneath a veneer of acceptance or ambivalence. That conversation is valid, but sits separately to the conversation to be had about the place of Muslim communities in New Zealand. The question to have at the forefront of our minds right now is how to prevent violence against the Muslim community and any other community that might be susceptible to extremist violence.”

Imam Dr Reza Abdul-Jabber: You will not succeed in instilling fear and division in our hearts

“Let us be clear to those politicians out there, reporters, media and commentators that we need to stand up and call it out for exactly what it is. This is the epitome of white supremacy, of right-wing extremist hate, of racism and above all, this by definition is terrorism.”

Faisal Al-Asaad: Today, we mourn. Tomorrow, we organise 

“Planned and executed with complete impunity and without any hesitation, the massacre took place because the perpetrator, like so many others before him, felt a confidence that in our societies is afforded only to white men.”

Jinghan Naan: “You showed the world how Muslims welcome, with open arms, even people like yourself into our Mosques”

“You have broken many many hearts and you have made the world weep. You have left a huge void. But what you also have done have brought us closer together. And it has strengthened our faith and resolve. In the coming weeks, more people will turn up in the Mosques, a place you hate so much, fortified by the strength in their faith, and inspired by their fallen brothers and sisters.”

Waleed Aly: “There’s nothing about what happened in Christchurch today that shocked me.”

Linwood Mosque Imam Alabi Lateef Zirullah and Al Noor Mosque Imam Gamal Fouda: “May Allah give them peace”

Warning: descriptions of attack.

Imam Alabi Lateef Zirullah and Imam Gamal Fouda. Image: NZ Herald

“New Zealand is a peaceful country and we love it and will continue to love New Zealand and New Zealanders. This shouldn’t scare us or stop us working together as brothers, friends, in this beautiful country.”

Mehdi Hasan: Violence does not exist in a vacuum. Politicians and pundits must stop fuelling Islamophobia

“When I read his manifesto, I couldn’t help but think of high-profile American politicians, such as the president of the United States who said, “Islam hates us,” referred to “people coming out of mosques with hatred and death in their eyes and on their minds,” and compared a caravan of migrants to an “invasion.”

Mukseet (via Chlöe Swarbrick): I just wanted to say a few things not as any authority or expert, but as me; a Muslim immigrant, a New Zealander

“Growing up as a brown boy, and (especially post 9/11) as a Muslim in New Zealand, I’ve always experienced racism in various forms. Kids calling me curry muncher or terrorist, telling me my clothes smell or laughing at my oily hair. From being excluded from playing Catch and Kiss (in hindsight, what a f*ing terrible game) to Tinder profiles that say ‘no Indians’ (something which, technically, I am not, so you know I’m swiping right).”

Pakeeza Rasheed: I am a Muslim New Zealand woman and I am as angry as I am sad

“After the events of 9/11 our family home in Mt Roskill was vandalised, my mother and I had eggs thrown at us, and people would constantly yell at us from their cars as they drove past. “Go home,” they said.”

An image from New Zealand artist Colleen Pugh. Photo: Colleen Pugh

Saziah Bashir: Christchurch mosque terror attacks a dark day of grief, shock and unspeakable heartbreak

“I voiced what I felt, what I saw and what I feared. And I received hate messages from anonymous trolls on Twitter and Facebook every time. We somehow now live in a world (the Upside Down, the Darkest Timeline) where you can’t call a racist a racist, or a bigot a bigot, without an inordinate amount of backlash. Even some friends and allies tentatively called me alarmist and pessimistic.”

Rashna Farrukh: As the Christchurch attacks unfolded, I knew I had to quit my job at Sky News

“I stood by as the fear and hate grew. I compromised my values and beliefs to stand idly by as I watched commentators and pundits instil more and more fear into their viewers. I stood on the other side of the studio doors while they slammed every minority group in the country — mine included — increasing polarisation and paranoia among their viewers.”

Ghazaleh Golbakhsh & Lamia Imam (via Alison Mau): In the wake of the Christchurch shootings, let’s listen to the voices that matter

“The way (politicians and commentators) talk about immigrants taking jobs from Kiwis, looking at immigration as an economic benefit or burden only, rather than people enhancing our country – in that way, New Zealand is no different than the US.

“I am a child of immigrants. I was born in New Zealand and I find the language extremely dehumanising. I feel unwanted and excluded always.”

Plains FM: After March 15th

Plains FM 96.9 is a community access radio station in Christchurch that have launched a special daily series that offers news, updates and analysis of the terror attack. After March 15th will focus on the people involved in, and affected by the tragedies. Broadcast daily at 8.00am from Tuesday 19 March or listen to past episodes here.

Ghazaleh Golbakhsh: We are not the Us we imagined we were

“Right from the beginning as a six year old I was highly aware of the labels that were either forced on me or that I took on unconsciously. I was an immigrant, a woman, a woman of colour and a person from the Middle East – the “axis of evil” (Bush original); a “shit hole country” (Trump original); and moving to NZ was a “paradise compared to where [I’ve] come from” (Winston Peters original). There was never a time where race and ‘being different’ were not a part of my life.”

Anonymous: They are us. They? Them? Those?

“But now, you love us. You stand with us. The flowers smell nice. You post on Facebook about the Muslim experience. But you never asked, so do you even know? A stranger, you offer to walk me home. But why the fuck would I come to you?”

 Imam Fouda: ‘Hate will be undone, and love will redeem us’

“Last Friday I stood in this mosque and saw hatred and rage in the eyes of the terrorist who killed 50 people, wounded 48 and broke the hearts of millions around the world. Today, from the same place I look out and I see the love and compassion in the eyes of thousands of fellow New Zealanders and human beings from across the globe who fill the hearts of millions.”

Lamia Imam: I cannot forgive the rhetoric that got us here

“Among the 50 people killed is my dad’s friend, Abdus Samad, who led prayers. I have been to their home. His kids and his wife won’t get to have him home because someone subscribed to racist beliefs. ‘Respectable racists’ like those in the media and politics might believe their beliefs are not as extreme as the shooter’s, but their words fuel hatred.”

Mahvash Ali: Wear a headscarf today if you respect what it means

“Every time I get a call I stick my phone in my hijab and go about my business. My colleagues at The Project love it. I call it my Muslim bluetooth.

“Once, a dear non-Muslim friend even tied a tea towel around his head and tried to stick his phone underneath. Hilarious, and a miserable fail. But no, I did not mind. Yes, I laughed till my stomach hurt. So, dear Kiwis, be assured when you put a scarf on your head Muslims will love it. Just don’t try it with a tea towel please.”

Hala Nasr: Islamophobia: A Personal Reflection

“When I was eight, drawing my self-portrait, a Pākehā girl in my class grabbed the beige crayon out of my hand, telling me to use the dark brown crayon instead. I refused to go to school that week. I never told my mama why.

“When I was eleven, I watched a terrorist attack unfold on a television in class. That day, my predominantly Pākehā classmates connected me to the terrorists, and for weeks asked me why my mother wore a scarf on her head. I would hide in the library at lunch times. I never told my mama.

“When I was 19, a boy I liked told me it wouldn’t work because I was a Muslim, and my family were Muslim. His mother wouldn’t approve. I didn’t bother telling him: neither would mine.”

 Sunday: The truth about Islamophobia featuring Fatumata Bah, Mukseet Bashir and Anjum Rahman

Image: Fatumata Bah, Sunday, TVNZ


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