My experience as a Returner
18 / 04 / 19
28 / 03 / 19
We asked people from our network to share their reflections on what we can all do to challenge hate and be supportive of our Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues following the events in Christchurch. We got lots of inspiring and helpful messages in response. Below is a selection of the messages we received. (Some messages may have been shortened or edited slightly.)
The paranoia after an attack is quite strong. I think to tackle this, there needs to be communication. Be friendly. Smile. Say hello. Simple things can help a lot. To tackle future attacks, speak out if you see something happen. If pulling off headscarves is common where you live, then offer something for the woman to cover her hair. I’ve seen people offer condolences and although it comes from a good place, no one is responsible for the crimes of another. The only way to tackle hate is through understanding.
We are all capable of love and despite these terror attacks that were done out of hate and the spread of hate since, we should all carry on showing love, show our humanity and display the behaviour we wish to see in our world. It’s scary sometimes being a visible Muslim and sometimes even just a smile to a stranger, a hello to your neighbour or a quick catch up over coffee with your colleague can make such a big difference. As a Muslim I just want that reassurance that my community of all faiths, beliefs and backgrounds are there to make me feel welcome. Through unity we shall accomplish great things. Through humanity we will, as messengers of happiness, kindness and love, make this world a better place through every small action we do.
Aishah Din, Birmingham city university
“I’ve seen people offer condolences and although it comes from a good place, no one is responsible for the crimes of another. The only way to tackle hate is through understanding.”
Open discussion regarding Islamophobia, giving people an opportunity to be introspective and recognise racist and Islamophobic thought patterns when they experience them so that they can change those patterns and behaviours. Often times people will get defensive when they’re called out on their bigotry and so focus on the act or speech that is harmful rather than the person they’re more willing to learn, and learn more about Islam and their Muslim neighbours in the process.
Fostering love, tolerance and community are key to building a peaceful society. Nurturing relationships and friendships is more important than ever, because sincere inclusion, which sees past stereotypes and seeks to understand difference, does far more than platitudes. As someone who identifies as a minority Muslim, never have the words of my community resonated more in my heart: love for all hatred for none.
“Nurturing relationships and friendships is more important than ever, because sincere inclusion, which sees past stereotypes and seeks to understand difference, does far more than platitudes.”
I saw something on social media recently that I found helpful in providing guidance about what I could do as an ally. A Muslim woman suggested that if we see a Muslim person(or any person for that matter) being verbally abused on public transport, for example, one way of helping could be to:
1) Go and sit next to the person being abused
2) Start a conversation with that person about absolutely anything
3) Completely ignore the abuser/don’t mention the abuse in your conversation/act as if the abuser does not exist
The idea is that by joining the person being abused, they are no longer a lone target and that by ignoring the abuser, they will become an irrelevance and hopefully back off. Once the abuser has ceased their behaviour, you can check-in with the person who has been abused, ask them if they need anything/offer them the appropriate support in the moment and then report the hate crime.
I often feel powerless in the face of incidents such as the Christchurch shooting and wonder what I can do to help. However, having read this post on social media, I felt that this was one small thing that I could do to support Muslims and other minority groups facing hatred in the current political climate.
Inna Lilaahi Wa Inna Ilaahi Rajuun.
Our sympathes and thoughts will be with our brothers and sisters in New Zealand.
All Muslims and Non Muslims with all faiths promote Peace, love and Harmony and to respect our difference.
Dahabo Isse, Dadihiye Somali Development Organisation
The murder of 51 people at prayer in New Zealand touched us all very deeply and we are still reeling from the shock. When one prays, we are communicating with our Creator. This is the most precious and intimate communication that we ever engage in. Imagine someone speaking on the phone to one’s mother or father and someone enters and murders the child, the pain caused to the parent and the child is indescribable. We need to heal ourselves and the world with love. G-d’s has great joy when all his people, His creations, live together in peace and harmony. We need to return to the conversation so brutally interrupted and demonstrate to our beloved G-d that all His children are still “on message”.
Herschel Gluck, president of Shomrim in Stamford Hill/ founder of Muslim-Jewish Forum of Stamford Hill
“We need to heal ourselves and the world with love. G-d’s has great joy when all his people, His creations, live together in peace and harmony.”
I’m standing with you, facing down all the frightened, frightening, vicious, hate-filled people. All our lives matter. I promise you I will do my best to challenge all the hate-filled statements that I hear. I’m not giving up. I realise it may seem easy to say these things. I respect you and I love you.
Your Humanist friend,
As a Muslim living in a Western liberal democracy, I’d like to see a more equal conception of citizenship, without any double standards. This means that government, the media and individuals must not ‘other’ Muslims or deny us our rights as citizens: free speech and expression, equal access to justice, equal treatment under the law, correcting biases in policing/counter-terrorism and the media. People should rightly oppose all kinds of hate and bigotry whether that’s homophobia, antisemitism, misogyny or Islamophobia. But this can be done without labelling or discriminating against a whole other marginalised group in the process. As the terrorist attacks in Christchurch showed us, the actions of our politicians and the words in our media play an important role in stoking right-wing extremism, and we must categorically reject all such hateful ideologies and actions.
On Thursday 21st March the Imam of the Islamic Centre in Lewisham invited all faith leaders in the borough to come together in a show of solidarity, following the terror attack in New Zealand. About a hundred people gathered on the pavement, in front of the centre, to listen to speeches condemning the attack, and the fear and hatred it had invoked. Lewisham is the most diverse of the London boroughs, and the most active in its multi-faith activities. We had gathered to celebrate our diversity, to offer support and comfort, whilst at the same time acknowledging the racism that is a constant threat in Lewisham today, and thinking how we can challenge it. One speaker begged us not to turn a blind eye when we see acts of racism, however small, and a poem was read out written by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). It is about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power, and subsequent incremental purging of their chosen targets, group after group.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”.
Today we must speak out.
Marion Watson, The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Lewisham
“A world based on values of non-violence, kindness and tolerance is a world where we can all thrive in harmony together.”
As Buddhists we at Kagyu Samye Dzong London stand in solidarity with others against all forms of violence towards any group or individual, regardless of their race, religion or gender. The Buddha taught that in order to attain peace we need to give up harmful acts; we need to practice positive acts, and we need to tame our mind. A world based on values of non-violence, kindness and tolerance is a world where we can all thrive in harmony together.
Lama Zangmo, Kagyu Samye Dzong London Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre
In our plural world it’s essential that we respect each other’s freedom of religion or belief (personally I’m a humanist, so not religious). And it’s even more important that we recognise our shared humanity. I can’t understand how a fellow human could have killed those innocent people in Christchurch. But I can understand how important it is for all of us now to stand up against the inhumanity he represents. Muslims in Britain have a right to feel safe and secure as they pray. We must not let that be taken away.
I believe now more than ever, it is important to reach out a hand and build positive relationships between individuals from different communities. Those who have prejudices and sadly act on those prejudices often do not have the exposure of working or forming relations with individuals from communities that are different from their own. It may take more effort, but I believe that through taking responsibility ourselves, we can build bridges between communities. This could involve getting involved more in the local community, being active in spreading positivity through social media or even simple things such as being kind to someone who is different from you, even if that kindness is just asking if someone knows what platform to use at the train station. It’s small acts like these that help to breakdown stereotypes and build tolerance.
“It is paramount at this critical time that the harmonious values are indeed imbued within our human spirit, psyche and embodied in practice.”
As a human being sharing this diverse planet I stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters in Christchurch, asking that G-d will comfort those who mourn, bring healing to the injured, and peace to the community. As a follower of the Jewish faith I sit like the friends of Job (Iyov), who had so little they could say to their friend – and yet he was able to draw comfort from them. As a brother, a descendant of the prophet and leader Abraham (Ibrahim) I grieve with you, and yet believe that there is still hope. Across the other side of the globe far away from you as we lift our voices in prayer, to the One True G-d, we are united, we are strengthened. Evil will never win. Good will triumph. May you always find those who wish to help you, support you, care for you and your families and may we share that vision for Peace – Salaam – Shalom.
Gerry Cohen, Barnet SACRE, Barnet MultiFaith Forum
As people of faith and none, there are universal harmonious values of mutual respect, love and humanity that bind the human family together and we should not be cowed by the flames of fire that extremists from whatever persuasion seek to espouse through their exclusionary, insular and othering discourse. It is paramount at this critical time that the harmonious values are indeed imbued within our human spirit, psyche and embodied in practice.
It is through the good people of this world raising their voice and showing solidarity via their worship, oratory, written and practical prowess around the core values that bind us together demonstrating how they are united for peace and united against extremism that the scourge of hatred and violent extremism can be diluted amongst our midst.
The 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke famously stated: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
It is paramount for the good people to “do something” positive to dim the flames of hatred.
Kaleem Hussain, The Oxford Foundation Representative for the West Midlands & Buckinghamshire
There is far more that unites us than separates us. We are all part of the human family and as such all have an equal right to equal respect and to lead happy lives. For the most part, our communities get along together very well. Maybe remember and highlight all the positive collaborations rather than shining the spotlight on the exceptional negative incidents. Celebrate our diversity and also our common humanity.
“It is important that communities, especially faith communities, stand together not just in time of tragedy but also in a time of peace.”
As a Muslim I believe that the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand and all terrorist attacks all over the world is never supported by Islam. Because Islam is religion of Mercy & Muslims believe in Peace. While we are living in multi-cultural society, we stand together with all faiths and non-faith people as humans. We all respect each other as a human; not judge. Because God is great judge. Most people in society are kind-hearted but the trouble makers are minority. So once we stand together and hold each other; they will realise the values of peace & unity. May be if God wills ; May He will guide them. Let’s believe we are one body; if anything happens in one part of body; it will affect the whole body.
Mfa Zaman, Safe & Save
Nothing can express the horror we feel at the atrocities in New Zealand, and by implication, the attack it makes on Muslims worldwide. Behind this are depths of hatred, ignorance, and prejudice that seem to be accelerating across the globe and in this country. Autumn Rose Club’s aim and role is to work to bring the community together. We’ve done so over the years in small ways and through small practical steps, that builds up to touch hearts and minds and provide a secure defence against the hatred and extremism we’ve seen elsewhere. Let’s be intentional as we cherish the contribution of diverse faith and cultural traditions to our thriving society.
Autumn Rose Club
The Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE) is deeply saddened by the recent terrorist events in Christchurch Mosques, where unarmed worshippers were mercilessly murdered and many were wounded during the prayer time at the palace of worship. We condemn such violation of universal human rights. We grieve the loss of the innocents and pray for all New Zealanders for their safety and security. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of all victims, including those affected by this attack.
“It may take more effort, but I believe that through taking responsibility ourselves, we can build bridges between communities.”
No one should live in fear because of their faith, religious beliefs and expression. In light of the attack on the mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand. It is important that communities, especially faith communities, stand together not just in time of tragedy but also in a time of peace, to ensure that we find common grounds to better understand the relationship and unity of our faiths and religions. I firmly believe an attack on a peaceful gathering of Muslims, people of faith is an attack on all people of faith.
Reverend Jide Macaulay, House Of Rainbow CIC
Mitzvah Day stands shoulder to shoulder with Muslim communities in Britain and all around the world after the horrendous terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. We will always be your partners in fighting racism and hate.
Mitzvah Day will never let extremists cower us or prevent our work of bringing people of all faiths, and none, together through social action. We know that from small acts of kindness, where people of different faiths come together to help others, real friendships grow and hate will ultimately be defeated.
Georgina Bye, Mitzvah Day
I believe now more than ever, it is important to reach out a hand and build positive relationships between individuals from different communities. Those who have prejudices and sadly act on those prejudices often do not have the exposure of working or forming relations with individuals from communities that are different from their own. It may take more effort, but I believe that through taking responsibility ourselves, we can build bridges between communities.
This could involve getting involved more in the local community, being active in spreading positivity through social media or even simple things such as being kind to someone who is different from you, even if that kindness is just asking if someone knows what platform to use at the train station. It’s small acts like these that help to breakdown stereotypes and build tolerance.