Murder in Mosques
There can be no place for hatred, intolerance and senseless violence anywhere in the world—of the type we witnessed in Christchurch on Friday which has killed at least 49 people so far, including 3 Bangladeshis and injured many more—as of going to print. The senseless killings of devotees in two mosques who had assembled for Friday prayers is the most abhorrent, hateful and appalling act that one has seen in the recent past. While we mourn for those killed and injured, we thank Providence that our national cricket team are safe, having escaped by the skin of their teeth. This act of utter madness and brutality must be condemned by all in the strongest possible term. While we call for the arrest of the killers and their sponsors if any, we feel that our reactions should be modulated by the head and not heart in addressing the matter. We must all make sure that this horrendous situation is not exploited by other religious extremist groups.
Evidently, the killings were well planned and thoroughly coordinated by the perpetrators—there couldn't have been a better time to choose to ensure maximum casualties than a Friday congregation when most of the local Muslims had gathered for this weekly prayer.
Unfortunately, there has been a resurgence of far-right ideology in recent times, coated and garbed under the banner of nationalism. Christchurch killings, sadly is a manifestation of that tribalism espoused and encouraged, regrettably so, in many parts of the world. And one notices with distress the embers of hatred and exclusivity being stoked by some politicians in these countries for political dividends. We suspect that killers have been motivated by this particular ideology and consumed by a pathological hatred for people who believe in a different religious creed than them, betrayed by the manner they went about their killing spree.
While the killings are definitely an act of terror, they do not fit the definition of terrorism—the only intention of the killers was to vent their hatred against a particular minority group, and gain publicity. However, one cannot say with certainty that they do not have other cohorts who share their abhorrence of the "other". And this is what the government of New Zealand must address seriously. It must make sure that such extremist and fanatical views do not get the space or opportunity to breed and gain currency in a country whose ethnic diversity is second to none.