New Zealand Shooting: What We Know & What It Means

“The only way to stop hate is to confront it.”

This statement has frequently been a champion against hate speech, but recently, it seems as if popular culture has forgotten a group facing wide-spread hate: Muslims. With anti-immigration rhetoric, anti-Muslim and nationalist views perpetrating popular culture it seems as if Muslims are given the part of antagonist in every-day narratives. What many fail to recognize is that the only difference between Muslims and other citizens is their devotion to the religion of Islam. There has been a large increase in fear, aversion and discrimination against Islamic peoples in recent years with anti-Muslim incidents including, but not limited to: harassment, hate crimes, employment discrimination, profiling and anti-Muslimism rhetoric found throughout mainstream media. Islamophobia is real and the dangers of its existence only continue to grow.

At about 1:40 P.M. on Friday, March 15th, islamophobia led white supremacists to commit two mass shootings at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in New Zealand. The victims, many of whom were immigrants and refugees, were targeted during the time of their Friday prayers in which there would be an increase of attendees at the mosques. There were a total of 50 people killed in the two mosque shootings and 39 people being treated for gunshot wounds with 11 in intensive care. The gunman shot at worshipers for over two minutes before shooting at people on the street.

A man who took credit for the attack posted a “manifesto” before the shootings, divulging his mindset before the attack. He explained that, “We must ensure the existence of our people, and future for white children.” The suspect continued to explain his white supremacy as the reasoning for his attack. Most disturbingly, the gunman seemed to have complete clarity in his state of mind, even referencing the turmoil surrounding the controversy of the Second Amendment and gun safety in the United States. He stated that he chose firearms as his choice of destruction because “the left wing within the United States will seek to abolish the Second Amendment, and the right wing within the U.S. will see this an attack on their freedom and liberty”. The shooter is also believed to have associates who share in his extremist views.

The shooter, later identified as 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was charged with mass murder. Brenton also live-streamed a portion of the attack on social media, and it is believed that he did this to connect with others that share his extremist and white supremacist ideals. Failure to filter the violent, disturbing video has raised question about the ability of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media platforms to manage the filtration of violent and harmful content.

These terroristic acts have led to politicians and citizens denouncing anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate crimes within New Zealand and throughout the world. The New Zealand Prime Minister spoke out just hours after the attack, stating, “I can tell you one thing right now: Our gun laws will change... Now is the time for change”. She also stated that in New Zealand, nor anywhere else in the world, there is no place for hatred. The Prime Minister’s statements came shortly after news broke that the shooter had access to two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and one lever-action firearm.

Whether or not you are Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic or Atheist, we all must do better. We must call out hate when we see it, no matter the form. This was an act of terror upon a group of people united by faith. They were killed out of hatred. They were killed in a place of worship, somewhere anyone, no matter the religion, should feel safe. We must do better in seeing hatred and calling it out. Let us all stand together in solidarity for the victims and families through love and support in whatever form available: prayer, advocacy, donations or action.

Sources: 1, 2,3,4

Photo Credit:  Cover Photo, 1