How to even begin this? Nothing in this world could ever have prepared us for something so unspeakably horrifying to happen here in New Zealand. Fifty people who should have been enjoying the weekend with their family and friends are dead due to the xenophobic, psychotic actions of a terrorist who seemed to think he could make a decision over who could be citizens of this country and who could not. It’s hard to contemplate that someone could be so filled with such hatred that they would massacre a group of people peacefully praying. The groups of heavily armed police patrolling mosques today is a stark and confronting reminder that this happened, not in a far away land, but in our own country.
We have cancelled our scheduled content for the weekend and today and instead would like to take this opportunity to say a little about what has happened as we try as a nation to work through our grief and support those affected.
Robecca Leyden, Editor in Chief – It’s hard to believe that just a few days prior, the biggest story floating around was that Facebook, Instagram and Whats App were down. I’m currently in London and I was sitting in bed scrolling the same few apps because I couldn’t sleep when news broke. Safe to say I didn’t really sleep again that night as more and more information came through. The next day, and then the weekend and now Monday, have all just been surreal with no one knowing what to say to each other. I rang my Mum in Auckland. I’ve tried to reach out to the people I know in Christchurch. I’ve shed tears over pictures of the victims and their families. Then I’ve sat in stunned silence because I don’t know what else to do with myself.
This tragic event has addressed the elephant in the room – There is racism and racists in New Zealand. As a white person, I don’t see it that often and I don’t experience it. But it’s there. As much as we like to see ourselves as progressive, we sadly aren’t as forward as we like to think. All you have to do is talk to any non-white person and they have a story about something that’s happened to them. And that’s horrific. We need to do better. We need really be that country of peace and love we think we are. I don’t have all the answers (at all) but I do know one thing we can all do is rally around the New Zealand Muslim community right now and be allies. If you see something racist happening, if you see ANYONE being made to feel unsafe, step in – stand up. Let’s truly make that event ‘not us’. Because right now, it is very much us.
Emma Raho, Head Writer – New Zealand is thought of as a safe, friendly and inclusive nation that prides itself on hard work and always being willing to lend a hand. Our serious crime rate is relatively low compared to the rest of the world. Terrible things like mass shootings happen in far away countries and as sympathetic as we are to the victims the wheels keep turning here in our little slice of paradise. Most kiwis never really believed that such an atrocious act of terrorism could happen here. However it has and did and it’s rocked our small nation to the core. Not only are we mourning the fifty Kiwis who lost their lives, we are also questioning everything we ever believed about our home and ourselves.
In the face of this nightmare it has never been so important to show a united front that this kind of hate and prejudice will not be tolerated here. This is not what being a New Zealander is and if you hold these views it is you that is not welcome here. I’m so proud to see the vast majority of the population holding vigils, fundraising for the families of the victims and reaching out to Muslim kiwis and sharing their grief.
History has shown us that hate, anger, and violence achieves nothing but more hate and more violence. The key to moving forward is kindness, compassion and understanding.
The Spinoff have a great list of things you can do to support the Muslim community in Christchurch and New Zealand here.
If you are a victim or would like to volunteer to help, Victim Support have a number of ways to do this.