Our response has to be wide ranging

EDITORIAL

Terrorism has come to New Zealand and it feels terrible. We will struggle to come to terms with it.

These extremist, religion-based, hatred and ignorance-filled mass murders of innocent people have happened “elsewhere”.

First we became desensitised and in a way accustomed to them in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Nigeria . . . the repetition of the horrors combining with the distance to separate us from them over time.

We almost became used to the rolling news of mass-casualty terrorist attacks in other Western countries, though many rethought or cancelled travel plans. The calm in that storm of attacks by Islamist fanatics — and some counter-attacks on Muslims — since the Isis death cult lost its territory and pulling power has been a relief.

We were so lucky to live in little, safe, neutral New Zealand. A place where the politics of nationalism has been mercifully mild . . . a bit of anti-immigration rhetoric from parties in opposition, but none of the far-right political surge seen especially in Europe.

The Muslim community in New Zealand has felt blessed to be in this safe country too, though they have known that risks remain.

They have experienced discrimination in their personal lives — especially Muslim women, who are easier targets through their dress and the fact they are more vulnerable to the thankfully-rare, ignorant cowards who shower abuse on them. They have also seen terrible things said about them and their religion on social media, and sometimes mainstream media.

Yesterday terrorism came to Christchurch in the form of an Australian-born white supremicist with an arsenal of weaponry and a New Zealand gun licence.

Enquiries are ongoing as to whether two others were involved in the slaughter of 49 people at two mosques during Friday prayers.

Today we have many questions that will hopefully in time receive answers. We need to stand with our Muslim community in this time of unimaginable tragedy. We need to protect them, we need to educate people about their religion and the benefits of diversity. We need to respond to the far-right, anti-immigrant hate speech and lies that fostered this horror.

Terrorism has come to New Zealand and it feels terrible. We will struggle to come to terms with it.

These extremist, religion-based, hatred and ignorance-filled mass murders of innocent people have happened “elsewhere”.

First we became desensitised and in a way accustomed to them in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Nigeria . . . the repetition of the horrors combining with the distance to separate us from them over time.

We almost became used to the rolling news of mass-casualty terrorist attacks in other Western countries, though many rethought or cancelled travel plans. The calm in that storm of attacks by Islamist fanatics — and some counter-attacks on Muslims — since the Isis death cult lost its territory and pulling power has been a relief.

We were so lucky to live in little, safe, neutral New Zealand. A place where the politics of nationalism has been mercifully mild . . . a bit of anti-immigration rhetoric from parties in opposition, but none of the far-right political surge seen especially in Europe.

The Muslim community in New Zealand has felt blessed to be in this safe country too, though they have known that risks remain.

They have experienced discrimination in their personal lives — especially Muslim women, who are easier targets through their dress and the fact they are more vulnerable to the thankfully-rare, ignorant cowards who shower abuse on them. They have also seen terrible things said about them and their religion on social media, and sometimes mainstream media.

Yesterday terrorism came to Christchurch in the form of an Australian-born white supremicist with an arsenal of weaponry and a New Zealand gun licence.

Enquiries are ongoing as to whether two others were involved in the slaughter of 49 people at two mosques during Friday prayers.

Today we have many questions that will hopefully in time receive answers. We need to stand with our Muslim community in this time of unimaginable tragedy. We need to protect them, we need to educate people about their religion and the benefits of diversity. We need to respond to the far-right, anti-immigrant hate speech and lies that fostered this horror.

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