Terrorism: a Threat to West and The Rest
On Friday, March 15, dozens of Muslims lost their lives at the Al-Noor and Linwood Mosques in New Zealand’s Southeastern city of Christchurch when a gunman opened fire on the helpless people present there for Friday prayers. The circumspect history of New Zealand has never witnessed such a deadly shooting. Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern described it as a terrorist attack.
The attack on Muslim mosques in New Zealand has opened a new conundrum that is regenerating the discourse on the threats of terrorism at global level. Previously, Muslims have been blamed collectively for any act of terrorism anywhere in the world. The Christchurch tragedy has, in many ways, unveiled the evangelical mentality and Islamophobia which has skyrocketed in recent times in large parts of Europe.
While the world mourns over the lives of 50 Muslims in this sad and heinous tragedy, one Pakistani family’s reaction is out rightly different. Naeem Rashid was one of the nine Pakistani citizens who embraced martyrdom in the New Zealand mosque attack. His heroic and valiant act has received immense commendation that displayed fortitude and lunged at the terrorist to stop him with his bare hands. His extraordinary act of bravery saved lives of others in the mosque and gave them time to escape the shooting. Naeem’ wife says that her husband and son, Talha Naeem, another martyr raised her head with pride by saving others’ lives. To her, Islam is a religion of peace, and it teaches to sacrifice your life for other human beings.
This narrative is diametrically in opposition to the discourse prevalent in the Western world and media, about Islam in general and Pakistan in particular. Pakistan, for decades, remained under the cloud of terror; the loss suffered by the people of Pakistan is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. The huge sacrifice of precious lives and the efforts made in this regard tackling the scourge of terrorism has never been acknowledged at any platform. At this point, people like Naeem Rashid, is an example to the world that the label of terrorism being attributed with Islam and Pakistan is altogether a deliberate policy of occidental powers to contain the clandestine stratagems of monopolizing the region. A clear message has been conveyed to the international community that terrorism is a global threat and is not confined to Islam and Pakistan.
The attack has provided Muslims the valid reason to propagate a narrative to counter Islamophobia and the notion of linking terrorism to Islam.
As the condemnations and solidarities are pouring in the aftermath of terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, the notion of terrorism with Islam and White Supremacy is again the center of the debate which projects the menace being present both in West and the rest.
President Trump refrained from describing it as terrorism; this is manifestation of bigotry of white supremacists towards Islam. President Trump’s stint has caused an emergence of ‘right wing populism’ that eventually has provided a voice to the anti-Muslim elements in the West.
‘The Replacement Theory’ mentioned by the attacker in his manifesto shows the deep rooted bigotry towards Muslim and seeing them through the lens of ‘us’ verses ‘them’.
The statements of Australian Senator has created ire and compelled the people to react against him for his remarks against Muslims.
Muslims are being labeled and singled out as terrorists particularly after 9/11 and the mass immigration after Arab Spring has stirred resentment and discontentment among Western countries which may further head to global crisis. People in West see Muslim immigrants not only a threat to their economy but also to their culture and social values.
While PM Jacinda Ardern has showed a resound leadership to embrace the Muslim community of New Zealand, people are admiring her reaching out to the victims’ families and her gesture followed by concrete steps to present and an untoward incident in future are commendable.
The role of leadership is as important as the resilience of a nation which can embrace the people at the very time of solidarity needed for devastated communities. The steps taken by New Zealand government to heal the wounds of Muslim community are unprecedented, as they after an attack changed the law of the land (banned the sale of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons) to keep the diversity and social fabric of the society intact.
The world has to follow the example of the New Zealanders to strengthen the harmony among ethnicities and to confront the Islamophobia and hatred towards Muslims and other communities.