Three Australian Muslims talk solidarity after the Christchurch shooting
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Yusra, Fahad and Samantha speak up about tangible ways Australians outside the Muslim community can show their support.
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Three Australian Muslims talk solidarity after the Christchurch shooting

by Elle Finch See Profile
Sydney NSW, Australia
21st Mar 2019
Three Australian Muslims talk solidarity after the Christchurch shooting

After being welcomed with salaam (peace) into the heart of Christchruch’s Al Noor Mosque, an Australian-born terrorist quickly transformed a place of sanctuary into a scene of massacre. It was in the vulnerable state of prayer– cut off from the outside world and at one with God – that they were targeted by an unfathomable act of violence. The assailant used a military style semi-automatic rifle to kill 50 New Zealanders and injure many more.

In the wake of the terror attack, I spoke with friends who identify as Muslim, and while all are devastated, none are surprised. The white supremacist views of the gunman, detailed in an incoherent manifesto, did not develop in a vacuum. A merging of media and political agendas has fuelled Islamophobia by giving high profile right-wing politicians a consistent and highly visible platform to echo the principles of a white supremacist ideology. This careful curating, and subsequent misuse of stereotypes to promote a political agenda is a dangerous and age-old tactic. Media has played a pivotal role in perpetuating an 'us verses them' mentality through double standards of reporting, with many outlets humanising the terrorist. Instead, we give voice to the personal responses and experiences of three Australians who identify as Muslims in the wake of this tragedy.

Yusra Metwally

Screenshot 2019 03 21 17.59.09
Pictured: Yusra Metwally. Photo credit: Elle Finch.

Prayer is about pressing pause on all things worldly and connecting to one’s creator. Prayer in a mosque, particularly communal prayers, is significant because Islam values a sense of community. Like Waleed Aly articulated, being in a mosque is a place where you can truly escape all things worldly, a place of introspection, reflection and complete separation from the outside world.

When I heard the news, I had just dropped off my husband to the local Mosque, Masjid Al-Nour for Friday prayers, which shares the name as one of the mosques attacked in Christchurch. My reaction wasn’t shock; however, it did take me days to process the intensity of the attack.

I become a mother less than two weeks ago, and I know that my son will attend Friday prayers when he's older, like the youngest victim of the attack, three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim. I know that the perpetrator isn't the only Australian who subscribes to white extremist views, and that such an attack may well happen again.

The support shown to the Muslim community has been heart-warming. Solidarity can be shown by acknowledging this terrorist attack, in the same way that other terrorist attacks are acknowledged. More importantly, the most tangible way to show solidarity is to call out racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia.

The fight against Islamophobia requires us to be critical of the media we consume - the front pages of the Daily Telegraph continually dehumanise Muslims, and that approach has worked to sell the papers. Don't buy into the headlines. Hold politicians and journalists to account. We need to recognise that a fine line exists between freedom of speech and hate speech, and that words are weapons which contributed to this attack occurring.

We have two elections coming up: one this weekend in NSW and the Federal election in May. This is the community's opportunity to send a message loud and clear that the cheap politics of division is not welcome.

Fahad

I was shocked and shattered but not surprised. Nothing that I have read in the manifesto of the terrorist was different to what mainstream politicians have been saying for decades.

In the aftermath of such a tragic attack, it is important to check on those who identify as Muslim, and vote out the fascists. Holding your elected officials accountable is a way to ensure that there are checks and balances of power. It is important to speak out against injustice if you see it.

I think that Australians need to collectively ask themselves, what stories do they want to tell their kids? This requires major self-reflection, compassion and empathy. We need a major structural change. The first step is of course recognising that First Nations sovereignty never ceded because no minority is safe until First Australians are safe.

Samantha Hamad

Pictured: Samantha Hamad. Photo credit: Elle Finch.
Pictured: Samantha Hamad. Photo credit: Elle Finch.

Although I appreciate messages of support in public forums, it frustrates me to see people expressing shock because arriving at this point seemed inevitable to me. Hate-filled comments have dominated any story involving the word ‘Muslim’, thanks to the media making it synonymous with terrorism, so it’s no wonder that someone from the alt-right felt the need to ‘defend’ white people against the ‘Islam plague’.

There’s something very comforting about seeing non-Muslims stand with us and publicly acknowledge that a terrorist is a terrorist, irrespective of origin, and that they do not represent the broader Muslim population.

I think we as a society need to take a stand against politicians and influential public figures who perpetuate Islamophobia through the ‘us and them’ ideology. It is hate speech packaged as the preservation of freedom, liberty and ‘good Christian values’. Hearing people call it out for what it is and trying to correct perceptions, both in the private and public spheres, is an understated method of support. I think the best thing people can do is take responsibility to educate themselves and be informed. Most importantly, I encourage people to get to know those who identify as Muslim and see for themselves that they have more in common than not.

Show your solidarity towards our Muslim community by wearing a headscarf tomorrow on Friday 22 March.

Scarves in solidarity
Elle Finch

About Elle Finch

Elle merges her backgrounds in criminal justice, leadership and fine art to proactively advocate for change and tell unique stories through image. She is also a coffee enthusiast who enjoys long distance running, surfing and landscape photography.

More from Elle Finch

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Minority Voices
Sydney NSW, Australia
21st March 2019

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