Issue 4, Semester 1, 2019
Content warning: This article contains material referring to the recent Christchurch attacks.
I have been putting off writing anything about the attack on the mosques in Christchurch. Solely because it takes me back to some excruciatingly painful memories. Memories I wish I never had to experience.
The sight of men running up the street, with blood stained shirts, looking for help in 2003 in Quetta, Pakistan, will haunt me forever. I remember feeling utterly hopeless and distraught at the sight. I did not realise what was happening. The sight of the thick black smoke in the sky was not common. I knew something had happened. I was too young to understand what.
On 23 June 2003, four gunmen had entered a mosque, on a Friday, and shot and killed about 70 men as they performed their congregational prayers. A bomb had followed. Another 200 people were injured.
The attacks continue to date, albeit the manners have changed. Occasionally it is a bomb blast on a university bus, a target attack on a school, a bomb on a protest or fires shot at vegetable sellers, attack on the only Olympic gold medallist.
Or a snooker club bombed, where 110 men died in a single bomb blast. That’s double the Christchurch victim numbers, in a few minutes.
In February 2013, a school and market were attacked, 210 people, mainly children and women were killed, with a bomb brought in a water tank. Twenty-seven of these people were never found.
This is why my family left everything behind to come to Australia.
And for the first time in my life in Australia, I felt a similarly chilling fear in my bones. I regularly overlook my shoulders in the university’s prayer room. The fear is not unfamiliar. But it scares my adult self as it scared the 10-year-old child.
The sort of hate that caused people to kill the way they do in Quetta, in Somalia, in Pittsburgh and in Christchurch are not too distant. It does not happen in one night. I also know from experience that people do not start hating overnight. It is years of hard work. It is years of making us fear the other. Othering those that look different or practice a different faith.
People do not plan to carry out such atrocities overnight. It starts with subtle alienation. It starts with remaining indifferent to what happens to them. It starts when human vulnerability is used as political agendas. It starts when an entire community is used as a political football. It starts when the highest leaders in this country diminish an entire community to an illness.
It is worsened when perpetrators are labelled a ‘lone wolf’, ‘angelic boy’ or ‘bullied child’. It is worsened when the media selfishly has double standards.
Let us start calling whoever terrorises the minds and hearts of our communities what they really are, a terrorist. Let us also call out the ideologies they follow what they are Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, white supremacy and Xenophobia.
Anonymous is a Third Year JD Student.
Other articles in this issue: