InternationalVolume 14 Issue # 16

Lessons from the Christchurch attack

The recent terrorist attack on a mosque in New Zealand, killing nearly 50 innocent Muslim worshipers by a fundamentalist Christian from Australia, has really shocked the world, but it has also clarified some global misperceptions.

The terrorist attack in a mosque in New Zealand’s city of Christchurch, in which a fundamentalist Christian, Brenton Tarrant, entered the mosque and opened indiscriminate firing on the Muslim worshippers, has invited condemnation from far and wide. The most important perception which the terrorist attack on a mosque in New Zealand has dispelled is that fundamentalism has not been specific to Muslims. Without any doubt, in recent decades many Muslim outfits, including Al Qaeda, Islamic State and many others, have been involved in terrorist attacks. However, the western-dominated international media has been associating terrorism with Muslims and even Islam. However, this has been a very critical mistake of the western media and the New Zealand mosque attack vividly proves it. Although terrorism has no religion, yet there is no doubt that the terrorist killing the Muslim worshipers is a self-declared Christian fundamentalist. Unfortunately, he has not been dubbed so by the western media.

The sound-minded intellectuals belonging to any religion or region of the world must use the attack on the Muslim worshippers in New Zealand as a reference point to explain to the global audience that Muslims and Islam must not be seen in the context of terrorism. Moreover, fundamentalism is itself an anathema and people with extremist minds could use the name of any religion, whether Islam or Christianity, to perpetrate violence.

It is also important to note that the Western countries, intelligentsia and governments have been too much concerned about the growth of fundamentalism and terrorist trends among Muslims, particularly young men living in the western countries. However, they have had glossed over the fact that fundamentalism has steadily been growing among Christian youths across the world. Thus, downplaying a threat and its potential does not serve any purpose. This is an important lesson which all of us must learn from the New Zealand mosque attack. Otherwise, Christian fundamentalism and its translation into terrorist attacks could become a great threat to the stability and security of western societies and states. The western governments and think-tanks must now look into the causes of growing fundamentalism in young Christian men and this is, indeed, very important, not only for the stability and solidarity of their societies and states but also international peace and order. Because, there are around one and a half billion Muslims in the World living in around 50 plus countries and having sizable populations in the Christian-dominated Western countries. If extremists among Muslims started attacking Christians in the Muslim countries, and the Western countries the entire international system would be in tatters and clash of civilizations, as envisioned by an influential western scholar Samuel P Huntington, would be become a reality.

Insofar as the causes of fundamentalism among Christian youths is concerned, according to Australian Senator Fraser Anning, it was basically because of unabated immigration of Muslims from their countries to the western countries including Australia and New Zealand. This is pure racism because how come one could stop immigrants from Muslim countries, or for that matter any underdeveloped country, to go and take residence and occupation in the developed, economically-affluent Western countries. It is but natural that people would move to economically- thriving countries and regions in search of better life prospects and it is the fundamental right of every, human to move around for better opportunities obviously respecting the law of the land. So, all Muslims, who were martyred in the New Zealand mosque, were law-abiding citizens and living in that country legally. It is the state and its laws that either allow or not aliens to come to and take up residence and work. In the age of globalization which stresses a free flow of goods, services, information and human resources across international boundaries, it is, indeed, stupid to ban lawful movement of humans. People, whether Muslim, Christians, Jews or Hindus, would move around the world, keeping in view international laws and treaties. Here, one important point is that if immigration is really behind the gruesome attack, like the one by Tarrant, then why did he not kill Hindu immigrants to New Zealand or even to his own country, Australia, as the number of Hindus from India or other countries may be more than Muslims living in the country. Thus, the attack on the Christchurch mosque is a vivid evidence of well-grown Islamophobia in the Western countries among a section of the fundamentalist population. It is the fear of Islam and the potential role it could play in fundamentally changing for good societies of the West, which is the main cause of attacks on Muslims.

The situation, which has emerged after the loathsome terrorist attack on the Christchurch mosque must drive Muslim intelligentsia to think that there is a need to quickly change their societies by employing the core beliefs of the great religion of Islam of peace and humanity and by developing and employing most latest technologies. More importantly, Muslim intellectuals have to think that it is futile to vituperate the West and other religions for the sordid state of affairs in the Muslim world. The West may be responsible, in many respects, for the sorry state of affairs in many Muslim countries; however, it is also because of certain fundamental problems within Muslim societies that have been equally responsible for preventing the development of Muslim states and societies. The foremost of these problems include ultra-conservativeness, illiteracy, ignorance and economic backwardness among others. The Christchurch mosque attack must tell Muslims that although they have every right to move around the world to earn a decent living yet it is equally important that developing their own countries and societies has become important. The population of Muslims is growing with each passing day and it is becoming increasingly difficult to cater to the needs of such a large number of population, merely by sticking to traditional ways of thinking and behaving. Otherwise, more and more Muslims would move towards the West and make the situation there explosive for themselves and for the host countries.