BY FEISAL KIRUMIRA / Community Submission
“Hello brother” – these are the first and last words a Muslim man at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch New Zealand said to Brent Tarant, a 28 year old self-identifying Islamophobe and white extremist, before the latter opened fire and killed him. To date, we know that Brent Tarant murdered 50 people and injured 50 more. The victims included children, the old, and women and men who, in the eyes of Tarant, deserved to die because they were Muslims, refugees, migrants, and yes, not white.
As a Muslim, I find it extremely difficult to put into words the gut-wrenching pain that tears through the very core of my being when I think about what my sisters and brothers endured in those horrifying moments. I no longer ask myself where the hate towards Muslims comes from because we all know where it comes from, but we are too scared or preoccupied to face it. How can the hate stop when even the media continues to refer to the mass murderer Tarant as a “suspect” as if by some miracle he may turn into an angel who did not commit the atrocity? If this had been a Muslim migrant who killed 50 people in a church, would we be talking about a “suspect”, even he streams his killing spree live on social media? How can the hate stop when the first reaction by a police commissioner is to temporarily close all mosques in the country? Why is it that after a terrorist attack, say by Muslim extremists on non-Muslims, the first response is to show strength and resilience? Why not in response to the Christchurch massacre? This Islamophobic bias runs so deep that an Australian senator, Fraser Anning, had the audacity to claim that immigrants were to blame for the Christchurch massacre. A courageous teen, who in my opinion is an unsung hero, calmly took out his smartphone and filmed the senator while he smeared an egg on the his head.Embed from Getty Images
I take solace and courage from the words “hello brother” that a Muslim man said to a hate-filled mass murderer. To me, that is what Islam is about. Islam means peace and submission to the will of God. It means retaining your humanity and love in the face of hatred and death. When faced with the passing of a loved one, we say “In a lilahi wa ina ilayihi raj oon” meaning “ We belong to Allah, and to him is our ultimate return”.