Every morning I grab my phone and look at the weather and go on Twitter to catch up on the latest stories. Friday morning, most of us learned that two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand were attacked leaving 49 people dead and many more injured.
Here at home in Quebec, just a few weeks ago Alexandre Bissonnette was sentenced to life in prison for attacking a mosque leaving five men dead. Today there is an ever-growing fear of attending mosques in the Muslim community. I have friends who practice Islam and they have expressed that these acts of terror in such a peaceful space are gut-wrenching and terrifying. Although New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned this horrible event calling it an act of terrorism and extremism (and having no place in New Zealand or the world), in neighbouring Australia a Senator believes the shooting was justified.
Australian Senator Fraser Anning made a statement last Friday pointing the finger at left-wing politicians for believing the problem starts with gun laws and white nationalists. He also quoted the Bible saying, “As we read in Matthew 26:52, ‘all they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword’ and those who follow a violent religion that calls on them to murder us, cannot be too surprised when someone takes them at their word and responds in kind”.
Senator Fraser totally missed the ball. Last time I checked, Islam was a religion of peace. Don’t get me wrong. There are some extremists who are Muslim but extremists are not just Muslim (the proof is in the pudding).
He also blamed the Australian immigration laws and how they allow Muslims to migrate to Australia so easily creating a growing fear that excused the Christchurch Mosques shooter’s act of terror. Here in Canada, Conservative Party leader Andrew Sheer tweeted “Freedom has come under attack […]” when tweeting about the Mosque shooting, in New Zealand. Notice how he wrote “freedom” and not Muslims? It is almost like they are afraid to admit terrorist acts are not only committed by Muslims and they can actually be the victim. It’s almost as though right-wing politicians cannot see Islamophobic terrorist attacks like the Christchurch mosque shooting for what they are.
What exactly is there to fear in truly embracing those who practice Islam? What happened to getting to know our neighbours? Maybe then we would have nothing to fear. Muslims, just like others wishing to leave their countries for various reasons, do not immigrate to inflict violence but in the hopes of a better life.