Terrorism has no Religion

As many of you may be aware, earlier in March there was a terrorist act in New Zealand in which 45 Muslims were killed during the call to prayer on Friday afternoon. There were two separate attacks on the same day in different mosques; the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre. While these horrific events are of course worthy of front page news, it is was the response of one particular Australian Senator which shocked the world.

Senator Fraser Anning tweeted a statement following the shooting saying “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”. He then went on to connect the terror act with the growing Muslim population in New Zealand: “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

This statement caused outrage across the globe, and rightly so. At a time when people need to mourn and reflect, bringing in issues of extremism can only serve to aggravate the problem and prevent the healing that is so desperately needed, not just in New Zealand, but also in our wider global society.

Lately it has felt like society is retreating further and further away from itself, with countries increasingly choosing isolation over integration. With the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, a President with some controversial ideas on border control and immigration, there has been an overwhelming sense of fear and negativity towards ‘other’ cultures and ethnic groups. Granted, these feelings are predominantly being projected by a small, right-wing minority, and there are still many people who advocate acceptance and diversity in society. Yet, it is undeniable that racism and racist prejudice are on the rise, at least in Britain, if not across the globe. A Guardian study revealed that since the turn of the Millennium, the number of UK citizens with some racist prejudice has been increasing steadily since 2001, peaking in 2007 (the financial crash - blamed on immigrants jeopardising our economy), and with other terror attain that have occurred. This is perhaps unsurprising, considering our recent political history - the growth of UKIP, the Brexit vote, etc. London, especially inner London, has seen the biggest change in attitudes, and around one third of Britains would identify as having some racial prejudices. Clearly this is an issue, and one that if left unaddressed, could have scarring effects on our society.

It is understandable that people are more fearful of terrorist attacks nowadays when they seem to be happening more and more frequently. However, this doesn’t mean that immigration policies are to blame. If anything, it is the fear of immigrants and the consequent hostile environment which is aggravating the problem. Those who commit acts of terrorism are only a very small minority, and it is wrong to judge and entire people on the actions of a few individuals. Instead of blaming and isolating certain groups, we should be uniting across our ethnic differences to show solidarity in the face of these terrorists.

The Australian Prime Minister firmly rejected Senator Anning’s comments, saying “Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament”. Those views have no place in any country. The only way to heal the ruptures of our society is to turn away from racism and prejudice and accept all people - whatever their ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality and opinions.