From Breivik to Brenton to #HelloBrother
Terrorists kill without discrimination. Their tactics differentiate them from freedom fighters.
Terrorists have no religion. They may have names—Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim or any other.
Buddhism does not support the use of violence as a way to resolve conflict.
In Christianity, peace is achieved by accepting Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Hinduism insists on the complete renunciation of violence because, by the law of karma, violent action has to result in a violent reaction.
Muslims submit to Allah (swt), who says in the Quran, "... whoever kills a soul unless in retaliation for murder or for corruption in the land—it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one—it is as if he had saved mankind entirely" (5:32).
Terrorists have no colour. White supremacists, Boko Haram, Islamic State, Aum Shinrikyo, Irish Republican Army…
Terrorists have but one language, spoken only by them, that of hate against mankind. By that count, random bombing of civilian targets is also terrorism.
Terrorists have no heart. They can kill a child with the ease of plucking a flower petal, and smile.
Terrorists are basically cowards. They choose to attack the most vulnerable, the innocent, including women, children and the aged, the profoundly defenceless, and the differently abled.
Terrorists have blown themselves up. Terrorists have detonated car bombs in crowded places. Terrorists have driven vehicles into people. Terrorists believe in mass shooting. What a waste of life!
Terrorists are everywhere, what with their often inexplicable agenda, many remain unknown, making the death of the bystander, the father and the mother and the son and the daughter more meaningless.
Brenton Harrison Tarrant is an Australian Christian. Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) would have been so perturbed and ashamed.
Brenton's lengthy course of planning (motive to kill Muslims, purchasing weapons online, writing on the weapons, loading his car with arms and ammunition, choosing an alley for parking, knowing about Friday congregation, unguarded Muslim prayer hall, the timing of his attack) describes his Christchurch carnage as calculated cold-blooded murders.
Brenton's hatred for an unarmed and peaceful group in prayer is highlighted by his live-streaming of the 50 killings and as many injuries, many by shooting repeatedly at close range the same victims writhing in pain. A woman lying by the pavement could be heard pleading, "Please help me, help me", and the killer shot her again from a few metres.
Facebook should be called to question on how it could allow live-streaming of the first 17-minutes of Brenton's attack on the two mosques. But bizarrely, thanks to Brenton; his video has stopped any possible witch-hunt.
Hours before opening fire, Brenton posted online a 75-page manifesto of hatred, espousing violent right-wing ideology, one that is alarmingly growing worldwide, much with the advocacy of some leading world leaders. How such a racist declaration could filter past social media's sieve belies common sense.
In an act of extreme cowardice, he chose neighbouring New Zealand instead of his native Australia perhaps because of the former's long history of peacefulness and resulting unfortunate lax security. In New Zealand, one can reportedly go back and forth an airport entry several times after check-in, unthinkable in today's world of security alertness.
Five Bangladeshi devotees were among the fifty killed. Fortunately, Bangladeshi Test cricketers were delayed by a few crucial minutes in reaching the Al-Noor Mosque to offer their prayers due to prolonged press conference. New Zealand Cricket did not provide any security protection and guidance for the team bus. Bangladesh Cricket Board has failed because before the tour, BCB's advance team should have discussed security measures with New Zealand in New Zealand.
An inscription on one of Brenton's five guns read "To take revenge for Ebba Akerlund", an ostensible reference to an innocent 11-year hearing-impaired girl, who with four others was killed by a terrorist in Sweden's Stockholm in 2017.
He was taking revenge of a killing in Sweden. He is Australian. He goes to New Zealand. If he was man enough, he should have gone after that particular 2017 killer. Instead, he videoed killing people prostrating before Allah.
If terrorists fought and targeted each other, much of the world would not be bothered. In mafia land turf wars, the bad guys shoot or blow up only the bad guys. They had the courage not to kill the innocent. Two children were among those killed Friday at Christchurch.
After Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik killed 77 mostly youths in Oslo and Utoeya Island on July 22 2011, no one labelled all Christians as terrorists. After American self-avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof shot down nine African Americans at a Charleston church in South Carolina, 2015, no one branded all whites as criminals. After Welshman Darren Osborne rammed a vehicle in Finsbury Park, London, 2017 near a mosque, no one bracketed all Christians as extremists. After Brenton, no one will either, not after the compassion and solidarity expressed by New Zealanders across the board. Then why after a terrorist with a Muslim name goes on a rampage, the entire Islamic world becomes a target?
It is easy to fan nationalism because of natural unemployment against growing population and rise in costs of living, but not easy to deliver on the promises. We have seen election victories based on fanaticism, but the euphoria fizzles out because the ground reality is that much challenging.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has responded with utmost compassion and has led a nation in grief to find strength and unity among religions and communities from this tragedy. The commencement of the first session of the New Zealand parliament after March 15 with recitation from the Holy Quran shall remain a moving moment in the annals of pacification.
As promised by Ms Ardern, not only the gun law, all countries should review their standpoint on the death penalty for extreme crimes. Online sale of weapons must stop worldwide. Violence on so-called digital games must cease for good. Love for others irrespective of differences of any nature must be included in education from kindergarten. Perpetrators of hate crimes must be dealt with severity.
For killing 77 people, Breivik is serving Norway's longest sentence, 21 years solitary-confinement with the possibility of an extension. For ploughing a van into Muslim worshippers, Darren Osborne will serve at least 43 years. Weighed against the crimes, the sentences smack of impunity, which allows latitude to terrorists, criminals and extremists of all creed and colour to partake in taking the life of another. For killing nine black parishioners, however, Dylann Roof is now on federal death row, awaiting his execution.
That fateful Friday, Brenton was welcomed at the mosque entrance by a 71-year-old former Afghan refugee Daud Nabi with two beautiful words, "Hello Brother", as would perhaps anyone to a house of worship of any religion. He was met with Brenton's venom and shot multiple times.
Let Allah (swt) bless Mr Brenton Tarrant and others like him to be kind and sympathetic, and to understand other religions and people. No one should be demonised because of one's faith or difference.
Dr Nizamuddin Ahmed is a practising architect, a Commonwealth Scholar and a Fellow, a Baden-Powell Fellow Scout Leader, and a Major Donor Rotarian.