New Zealand : Taking Action After the Christchurch Shootings
By: Meena Mrakade
On March 15, the world, particularly the Muslim community, was shaken due two the consecutive terrorist attacks in New Zealand’s Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre. The gunman, a white supremacist and alt-right supporter, live streamed the Mosque shooting on Facebook. This horrific event ended the lives of 50 people dead and left yet another 50 injured and is the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s modern history.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern regarded the attack against the New Zealand Muslim community with what many deemed as a strong and respectful manner, highlighting how other world leaders should be treating their respective Muslim communities. She has shown that her effective response should be the norm and not the exception when it comes to reacting to acts of pure terrorism against a minority.
When a photo of Ardern wearing a black headscarf gained global attention on social media, many began praising her for her respect towards the victims’ families and unwavering consideration of the shooting as an attack of terrorist nature. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Bernice King, wrote that Ardern “reflects the type of sincere, people-oriented leadership that the world needs to evolve from its current chaotic state.”
The Prime Minister pledged to never use the shooter’s name in order to not give in to his clear desire for publicity, encouraging her people to "speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them." Dubai’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed tweeted a photo of Jacinda Ardern’s photo projected on Burj Khalifa, thanking her for “sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world”.
Jacinda Ardern was not only exemplary in her reaction to the attack as she was also quick and effective with preparing the logical legislation that should follow such an event. Gun control has been a recurring topic in both politics and the media. While there may be an increasing number of school shootings in the the USA, there still lacks any action in regards to the right to bear arms, as claimed by the Second Amendment. Ardern, on the other hand, managed to completely ban semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles in New Zealand less than two weeks after the terrorist attack.
Ardern’s behavior greatly contrasts that of Australian senator Fraser Anning. Anning’s speech explicitly stated that “Muslim fanatics” who had immigrated in New Zealand were the reason for the attack. He also belittled the senseless killing of 50 people, saying that “while Muslims may have been victims today, usually they are the perpetrators”.
Jacinda Ardern shows other world leaders that compassion for the victims should be the priority when minority groups are targeted in such a horrific way. In respecting her Muslim community, Ardern took action that will benefit her country and its people overall, regardless of their religious beliefs.