CHRISTCHURCH SHOOTING

Terrorism amidst rising Islamophobia worldwide

M Serajul Islam | Published: 00:00, Mar 24,2019 | Updated: 22:56, Mar 23,2019

 
 

Members of the public and students participate in the ‘March for Love’ event at North Hagley Park in Christchurch on March 23, eight days after the mosque shootings that claimed 50 lives on March 15. — Agence France-Presse/Marty Melville

THE white Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant had planned the attacks in the Christchurch mosques over the past two years ago primarily to revenge the Bastille Day massacre in Paris on July 14, 2016, in which a Muslim immigrant had killed 84 people, mainly whites, and other acts of killings by Muslims in the west.
In a 73-page manifesto that he released on his Twitter account before the attack, he had stated: ‘An attack in New Zealand would bring to attention the truth of the assault on our civilisation, that nowhere in the world was safe, the invaders were in all of our lands, even in the remotest areas of the world and that there was nowhere left to go that was safe and free from mass immigration.’
The attack in Christchurch mosques in which Tarrant shot dead 50 Muslims while they were in the middle of their jumma prayer is a manifest reflection of the new wave of Islamophobia and the alarming rise of white nationalism in the west that is fast becoming the newest brand of international terrorism. Ironically, this wave is occurring when terrorist acts by the so-called Islamic extremists are on the decline, with groups like al-Qaeda decimated and ISIS being on the run. It may not be a matter of coincidence that Islamophobia and white nationalism have been rising alarmingly since the emergence of president Donald Trump in 2016.
Wikipedia the online encyclopaedia has recorded all terrorist attacks since the 1970s labelled ‘Islamic terrorist attacks’ that are available for all to read on the world wide web. The Wikipedia statistics are extremely intriguing and beg an in-depth analysis that would show that the victims of these acts of the so-called Islamic terrorism are overwhelmingly the Muslims. Between January 2016 and January 2019, there were 106 attacks in the list of ‘Islamic terrorist attacks’ of which only 29 were in western countries. Approximately, 2,370 people were killed in these attacks of which only approximately 280 were westerners and the rest were Muslims. A large number of the victims were Muslims killed by the Muslims. The Wikipedia list thus clearly underlines that by simple count of numbers, the Muslims have been the far worse victims of the so-called Islamic terrorism by a large margin and not the whites or the westerners.
Yet in the manifesto, Tarrant stated that the Muslims are invaders who have left for the west nowhere safe to go, a statement that the Islamophobes and the white nationalists in the western countries who together number in many millions also believe to be true. Thus, Tarrant called on his fellow white Australians to make Australia free of Muslims, a call that resonated in the statement of one Australian senator, Fraser Anning who blamed the Christchurch massacres on ‘… immigration programme which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.’ The white, racist nationalist base of president Donald Trump that brought him to power suffers from the same mindset vis-à-vis Muslims and Islam as Tarrant and this Australian senator as do millions on the extreme right groups in Europe.
There is, of course, the larger picture that hardly makes to the public discourse in an objective manner because of the west and the bias of its media against the Muslims and Islam. That bias has been enhanced by writings of professor Huntington (and extreme right intellectuals) that Islam is the enemy and the west must prepare itself in all possible ways to win the inevitable clash with the so-called Islamic civilisation. Thus deliberately or otherwise but with the same anti-Muslim, anti-Islam mindset encouraged by the professor and the extreme right intellectuals, the US had led its western allies into Afghanistan although explicitly for killing Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda operatives as revenge for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They entered Iraq on the totally false premise that the country possessed WMDs. And between the two wars, the US and its allies or the west killed innocent Muslim men, women and children not in hundreds or thousands but in excess of a million.
Then there is the plight of the Palestinians who are 93 per cent Muslims. They have been dispossessed of their land; their country and their freedom were turned into permanent refugees by the west for the same reason as their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with a deep-rooted historical hatred for the Muslims hich dates back to the crusades. The acts of terror by Muslims on Muslims in Muslim countries are also mostly the outcome of the indiscriminate ways in which the west has intervened in the affairs of the Muslim countries encouraging Muslims to kill Muslims. And the arms that Muslims use to kill Muslims are all intentionally supplied or purchased from the western countries with their full knowledge that the victims would be Muslims. The famous Muslim TV journalist Mehedi Hasan in a video that went viral on the internet recently said that if the US stopped supplying arms going to Yemen, the civil war there that is killing thousands of Muslims would end in a day.
The victims and perpetrators of a crime against humanity have seldom been as evident as in the case in the ongoing clash between the Muslims and the west. The Muslims are the victims today as the Jews were during the holocaust. It is true, nevertheless, that a small fraction of Muslims has fought injustice against them and are still fighting by acts of terror. It is equally true, however, that the overwhelming majority of Muslims have not and do not support these acts of terror. Nevertheless, the west, the perpetrators of this grossly uneven clash, have blamed the entire 1.8 billion Muslims for the acts of a few and their religion as the inspirations of their terrorist acts. The west is also in denial of the fact that a far larger number amongst them, the rising white nationalists/racists number in many millions, support all the west has done to Muslims, including causing deaths of innocent men, women and children in millions. There has been no regret in the west for the deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is indeed a sad reflection on the west that they fail to see the uneven nature of the clash that is as clear as daylight from the simple counting of numbers. The terrorism in the mosques in Christchurch exposed once more the west’s refusal to acknowledge reality, that the Muslims are the victims and that their denial comes out of a very deep hatred for the Muslims that dates back to the crusades. The response of the western leaders led by the US president to the terrorism in Christchurch has been a lukewarm condemnation for the killer and the manifesto he represented. The reaction in the western media has even been worse. The massacre went out of the news very quickly, without any serious coverage and analysis that it deserved. In fact, the western media appeared more interested in the past of the killer, in his middle-class background and the death of his father from cancer. One shudders to imagine what the western media would have done if it was a Muslim who had killed those 50 innocent people inside a church during a sermon.
The New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern stood with the Muslims at their hour of peril. She stated firmly and unequivocally that the Muslims and the migrants in her country are an integral part of New Zealand’s body politic. Her role has been admirable that only showed how deplorable has been the stand of her fellow western leaders. The Muslims called her ‘Mother of Humanity’ and said that she deserved the Nobel peace prize. The terrorism in the Christchurch mosques and reaction to it in the west, nevertheless, underlined the West’s woral and ethical decline and why professor Huntington was concerned about Islam. The Muslims worldwide, while condemning the terrorism, has not spoken a word of revenge but have maintained stoic silence to show their moral and ethical superiority in this uneven clash of civilisations.

M Serajul Islam is a former career ambassador.

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