On My Visit to New Zealand: Can Christchurch Heal Our Collective Wounds?

By Ramzy Baroud
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I visited the city of Christchurch on May 23, 2018, as part of a larger speaking tour in New Zealand that also took me to Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Dunedin.

New Zealand is an exceptional country, different from other countries that are often lumped under the generalized designation of the ‘western world.’ Almost immediately after my arrival to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most populous city, I was struck by the overt friendliness, hospitality and diversity.

This is not to downgrade the ongoing struggles in the country, lead among them being the campaign for land rights as championed by the Maori people, the original inhabitants of New Zealand; but, indeed, there was something refreshingly different about New Zealanders.

Just the fact that the Maori language, “Te Reo”, is one of the three official languages in the country, the others being English and Sign Language, immediately sets New Zealand apart from other colonized spaces, where indigenous peoples, cultures, languages and rights are, to various extents, inconsequential.

It is due to the empowered position of the indigenous Maori culture, that New Zealand is, compared to other countries, more inclusive and more accepting of refugees and immigrants. And that is likely why New Zealand – and Christchurch, in particular – was chosen as a target for the terrorist attacks carried out by an Australian national on March 15.

The Australian terrorist – whose name will not be mentioned here in honor of a call made by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, as not to celebrate the infamy of the senseless murderer – wanted to send a message that immigrants, particularly Muslims, are not safe, not even in New Zealand.

But his attempt backfired. Not only will he live “the rest of his life in isolation in prison”, as promised by New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, who was speaking at the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) emergency conference in Turkey on March 22, but the horrific crime has brought New Zealanders even closer together.

There is something sorrowful, yet beautiful, about Christchurch. This small, welcoming city, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, was devastated on February 22, 2011 by a massive earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed much of the town.

Last May, I spoke at Christchurch’s Cardboard Cathedral, an innovative structure that was built as a temporary replacement to the Anglican Cathedral that was destroyed in the earthquake.

In my talk, I commended the people for their beautiful church, and for their own resilience in the face of hardship. The diversity, openness and solidarity of the audience reflected the larger reality throughout the city, in fact, throughout the country. For me, Christchurch was not a place of tragedy, but a source of hope.

My audience, which also included members of the Muslim community, some coming from Al Noor Mosque – the main target of the recent attack – listened and engaged me as I argued that the genuine authentic voices of ordinary people should be placed at the core of our understanding of the past, and our hope for a better future. While the focus of my talk was the history of the Palestinian people, the message exceeded the struggle for freedom in Palestine into the struggle and rights of all indigenous groups, guided by such uplifting experiences as that of the Maori people of New Zealand itself.

I also had the chance to meet with Marama Davidson, co-leader of the Green Party, among other MPs. It was strange to be in a position where solidarity from politicians came across as genuine as that of the unconditional solidarity of ordinary activists – once again, highlighting the uniqueness of New Zealand’s progressive politics and leadership.

Experiencing that myself, it was no surprise to see the outpouring of genuine love and support by Prime Minister Ardern and many members of her cabinet and parliament following the mosque attack. The fact that she, along with numerous women throughout the country, wore symbolic head-scarves in order to send a message to Muslims that they are not alone, while countless thousands of New Zealanders mourned the victims who perished in Al Noor and Linwood mosques, was unprecedented in the recent history of Western-Muslim relationship.

In fact, on Friday March 22, when all of New Zealand’s TV and radio stations transmitted the call for Muslim prayer, and as Muslims and non-Muslims rallied together in a massive display of human solidarity while mourning their dead, for a moment, all Muslims became New Zealanders and all New Zealanders became Muslims.

At the end of my talk, a group of Muslims from the mosque approached me with a gift, a box of dates to break my fast, as it was the month of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and repentance for Muslims worldwide. With much gratitude I took the box of dates and promised to visit Al Noor when I return to the country in the future.

A few months later, as I watched the horrific images on television of the terrorist attack that struck this peaceful city, I immediately thought of the Cardboard Cathedral, of the beautiful solidarity of the Maori, of the numerous embraces of so many New Zealanders, and, of the kindly Muslims and the box of dates.

I also understood why the undeserving-to-be named terrorist chose to strike Christchurch, and the underlying message he wanted to send to Muslims, immigrants, New Zealanders and all of those who champion peaceful co-existence and tolerance worldwide.

But he failed. In fact, all other foot soldiers of racism and hate will continue to fail because tragedy often unites us. Collective pain helps us see each other as human beings first, where our differences, however great, can never be enough to justify or even explain why 3-year-old Mucad Ibrahim had to die, along with 49 other, beautiful and innocent people.

However, one can be comforted by the Maori saying, “Ka mate te kāinga tahi, ka ora te kāinga rua” – “when one house dies, the second lives”. It means that good things can always emerge from misfortune.

It will take much time for Christchurch, and the whole of New Zealand, to heal from this terrible misfortune. But the strength, will and courage of so many communities should be enough to turn a horrific terrorist act into an opportunity to heal our collective wounds, not just in New Zealand, but the world over.

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Interview of Sheikh Imran Hosein on Islamic Eschatology and the NZ Massacre

March 25, 2019

Sanders speaks at US mosque in the wake of deadly terrorist attack in New Zealand

Sat Mar 23, 2019
US Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles on March 23, 2019.
US Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles on March 23, 2019.

US Senator Bernie Sanders attends a mosque in the state of California in the wake of deadly attacks against two mosques in New Zealand by a white supremacist shooter.

“In this difficult moment, not only in American history where we see a rise in hate crimes, and not only in a world where we see a growing tendency toward authoritarianism, where demagogues are picking on minority communities all over this world, now is the time … for us to stand up to hatred of all kinds,” Sanders said during the event Saturday.

The 2020 presidential candidate visited the Islamic Center of Southern California, where religious leaders and people from other faiths had gathered to commemorate the 50 lives lost in the mass shooting earlier this month in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“To show the world that this nation in fact will be a leader in bringing our people together regardless of their religion, and to create an economy that works for all of us, an environment that works for all of us, and a world in which love will conquer hate,” said the Vermont senator.

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Bernie Sanders

@BernieSanders

In this difficult moment, where we see a rise in hate crimes and a growing tendency toward authoritarianism, now is the time for everybody to come together and to show the world that love will conquer hate.

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Fifty people died and dozens were injured in twin shootings on two mosques in Christchurch on March 15.

Described as a terrorist attack by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, it was the worst ever peacetime mass killing in the country.

The majority of victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia and Afghanistan. Muslims account for just over one percent of New Zealand’s population.

The attack revived calls for an end to Islamophobia in the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Trump has been urged to assure Muslims that they are protected and that he will not tolerate violence against their community.

The US president’s condemnation of the massacre was mild and did not involve the word “Muslims.”

Ever since he appeared in office, the New York billionaire has been running and anti-Muslim agenda, including the so-called Muslim ban.

Israel Shamir: “Christchurch Revisited”

South Front

21.03.2019

Written by Israel Shamir; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

You don’t have to be a white nationalist to commit a mass murder in a house of worship like the one in Christchurch, though if you only read mainstream media you’ll probably associate them with the unique depravity of doing so. Without the slightest intention to wax apologetic for the crime and rejecting conspiracy theories, I want to contextualise the event and preclude political profit-taking and guilt-assigning by the liberals.

Israel Shamir: "Christchurch Revisited"

White nationalists are not exceptional. A Muslim can do it just as “well.” In Egypt, Muslims massacred in April 2017 45 Christians in two Coptic churches. There is a long list of attacks on churches in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq by Islamic extremists. They kill not-sufficiently devout Muslims, too: over 300 Muslim worshippers were slaughtered by Muslim extremists in a Sinai mosque in November 2017. The ISIS atrocities are on a different (worse) level altogether, though they go underreported in the media that prefers to demonise president Assad and his Iranian and Russian allies.

(Many Muslim attacks on Christians go underreported, for media follow the policy of keeping local native nationalists under pressure, and full reporting would undermine this goal. In September last year, a man poured out petrol and tried to ignite a fire on a subway train in Stockholm. He was stopped by fellow passengers, arrested, sentenced to four years in jail. It was hardly reported at all, and the only report does not give his name, for a good reason: it is a Muslim name. However, so-called hate crimes get a lot of coverage.)

A Jew can do it even better. A Brooklyn Jew, Dr Benjamin (it’s all about the Benjamins, baby!) Goldstein single-handedly massacred about fifty worshippers in the Ibrahimiye Mosque of Halil/Hebron in Palestine on the eve of Purim 1994. He also wounded about 150 Muslim worshippers – though it is said that Israeli soldiers present at the spot gave him an assisting hand. Perhaps they thought it was free-for-all.

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Benjamin (or Baruch) Goldstein is considered a hero and a sainted martyr within his community, the fiercely chauvinist Jews of Hebron. They go to his grave and ask for his intercession before the Almighty. Young girls ask him to find them a suitor. Candles are constantly lit in his memory. A book was published in his honour, and his name is frequently mentioned among the settlers. They claim (without any evidence or factual base) that this massacre saved the Jews from being massacred by Muslims.

While white nationalist videos have been de-platformed, YouTube has no problem with this video exculpating and glorifying the Jewish mass murderer. Prime Minister Netanyahu (another Benjamin, baby!) decided to bring the party of Goldstein fans, Otzma Yehudit, into his government coalition, and it did not interfere with his triumphal progress to the AIPAC conference to be held on March 24, right after Purim.

Goldstein had his predecessors. On 26 July 1983, a Jewish terrorist group attacked an Islamic college with hand grenades and submachine guns; three students were killed and thirty wounded. The attackers were eventually apprehended, sentenced and quickly pardoned by the president of Israel after a big public campaign: over 70% of Israeli Jews demanded their release.

As Purim approaches, activity around Goldstein’s grave comes to a peak. A mystic could think that the NZ shooter had been moved to action by the Purim awakening of the Goldstein spirit. At the same time, the name of the Jewish killer is hardly ever mentioned in the Western media, and the Jewish American officials, while expressing their (justified) horror and indignation regarding the Christchurch murders, never refer to their coreligionist who preceded and inspired Tarrant. Some of them even said that nothing similar to the mosque shooting ever happened.

So, white nationalists are not exceptional. An unusual feature of Tarrant’s crime was that it was a hate-less hate crime; essentially a gamer’s crime. Apparently there is a game-acquired appeal in raining bullets upon “vermin”. If you played videogames you would know what I mean. A sort of FPS (First-Person Shooter Games) with your preferred enemy instead of a zombie. And now, make the next step – consider real people being zombies. You do not need hate for that; and Tarrant did not hate his victims, judging by his writing. He even wrote about the great friends he made in Turkey.

The border between videogame and reality became blurred by way of modern warfare. The video Collateral Murder, the first breakthrough achievement of Assange and Wikileaks, gives us the FPS of an American pilot killing innocent and unarmed people on the streets of Baghdad. Israeli girl-soldiers operate a remote-control killing system on the Gaza fence. It is called the Spot and Shoot system. They do what Tarrant did as their daily job. The same is done by drone operators sitting in faraway places and killing children. (To make it easier, they call their victims “fun-size terrorists”.)

Video games that train you to kill without feeling hatred are a substitute for this sort of killing. I’ve been to wars, and I’ve seen and experienced the real thing. Hatred is not necessary to kill your enemy. If you know who is your enemy, you can kill without feeling hatred, and that is what most soldiers do, most of the time.

It’s not something to be horrified about. We have to recognise aggression as a necessary element of our mentality. It is not “good” or “bad”, this is what we are, in the favourite expression of Mme Pelosi. We have an inbuilt drive for hunt and warfare, that’s why a little boy goes “bang bang” before he is able to talk. This is the way we are hard-wired. People like to shoot people; if they aren’t allowed to in real life, they do it in games. But they dream of doing it for real, to fight, to kill and perhaps, to die. This drive, like other destructive drives, is normally canalised, or sublimated. A boy’s hunting instinct and his drive for war have been transformed into heroic actions, into defence of one’s home and country, or into performing Herculean feats. Without it, we would be still sharing bananas in the African jungle.

However, we live in a feminised society where feats are against the law. A boy is supposed to behave like a girl; a girl, like a boy. Not only clothes and toilets are unisex, so is the indoctrination. The propaganda of gender-fluidity aims at killing masculinity at its root. A young working-class man has very few prospects in life. He can get a low-paid temporary job with no security, at best. And he can pour out his indignation and desperation in a video games saloon or in a fighting club. Or just use more drugs and alcohol.

Games, and shooter games in particular, are very popular, because they cater for basic needs – as pornography does. They are so popular that the Swedish gamer who was mentioned by Tarrant has ninety million followers: it is many times more than any article-writing journalist can ever reach. So there are many frustrated and dissatisfied men. Will the games provide a sufficient outlet for the pent-up tension? Perhaps; porno certainly influenced sexual relations by making so many men less interested in the real thing.

It is not in the best interests of mankind. For mankind, it is better for men to be interested in women and perform feats of courage for the best of the community to win their love. For the people who consider themselves our masters, there are other priorities. They want to have calm herds of many cows and oxen; bulls are trouble. This comparison is somewhat misleading: humans are not herbivores, and we are more rebellious, clever and strong-minded.

In order to quell the rebellious spirit, our would-be masters invent traps and fake vents. Greta Thunberg and her demonstrations against global warming provide such a faux outlet for the rebellion. The Yellow Vests of France are fomenting a real rebellion, and that is why they are being demonised by the mass media. Our society should be reorganised to allow young men to perform real feats. They want to save the world, and the only things they are being offered is to flip hamburgers or play video games.

This desire to save the world is evident in Tarrant’s Manifesto. He describes the world in which he and other working-class young men are displaced, and though his proposed solution (terror) is wrong, the problem is real. He sees the people he is being replaced with, the immigrants, and he seeks to deal with them.

The replacement is real, but the culprits are not the immigrants he is being replaced with. It’s people who organise the replacement, who bomb Muslim lands to create living hell in the once-prosperous Middle East and North Africa, who bring the refugees to Europe (and its extension in Australia-NZ), who indoctrinate against ‘xenophobia’ instead of denouncing greed.

Actually, Tarrant is aware of it. He wrote in his Manifesto:

The major impetus for the mass importation of non-Europeans into Europe is the call and want for cheap labour. Nothing drives the invasion more and nothing needs to be defeated more than the greed that demands cheap labour… In the end human greed and the need for increasing profit margins of capital owners needs to be fought against and broken.

He is definitely right on that, spot on. Greed of capital should be destroyed in order to save mankind, but killing Muslims is not the right way for it.

Tarrant’s concern about the low birthrate of Europeans is understandable, but for one reason only: he takes for granted this demand for cheap labour and more sales have to be satisfied. However, it does not have to be satisfied at all. If greed is controlled and defeated, and immigration blocked, the population can gently decline until a new sustainable level is found. For a while, the population will grow older, true; but this is a temporary effect. We are not doomed to ever-increasing population, ever-increasing profits and sales, ever-rising shares, endless expansion. It can be changed.

And we should, because if we don’t, our ‘masters’ will organise a giant bloodletting, a new great war to turn millions of deprived young men into Tarrants in their service, as they did in 1914 and 1939. Mankind will defeat greed and work for its better future, or will it turn upon itself. This is the main lesson of the Christchurch massacre.

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net

New Zealand Burials Start as PM Urges ‘United Front’ on Social Media

March 20, 2019

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

A Syrian refugee and his son were buried in New Zealand on Wednesday in the first funerals of those martyred in the twin mosque massacre as Kiwis braced for days of emotional farewells following the mass slayings.

An Australian white supremacist had gunned down 50 Muslim worshippers and wounded many more at two mosques in the southern city of Christchurch last Friday in a killing spree that he live-streamed.

Gunman Brenton Tarrant’s use of social media has put the spotlight on extremists’ use of such platforms, and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called on Wednesday for a global “united front” on the issue.

Hundreds of mourners gathered in the morning at a cemetery near Linwood Mosque, one of two places of worship targeted, to lay Khalid Mustafa and his son Hamza to rest.

The family arrived last year as refugees from the Syrian maelstrom only to find tragedy in a land where they had sought sanctuary.

A total of six burials were expected on Wednesday.

Ardern, who has vowed to toughen New Zealand’s lax gun-ownership laws following the killings, also said Wednesday the world needs to confront the dangers posed by social media.

“There is an argument there to be made for us to take a united front on what is a global issue,” she said at a press conference in Christchurch.

“This is not just an issue for New Zealand, the fact that social media platforms have been used to spread violence (and) material that incites violence.”

She had called on New Zealanders on Tuesday to deprive Tarrant of the publicity he craved by never uttering his name.

“He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless,” she said.

The 28-year-old was arrested after the shootings and is expected to spend his life in prison as New Zealand has no death penalty.

Dozens of relatives of the deceased have begun arriving from around the world, some hoping to take bodies back with them.

SourceAFP

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Trump Supporters in Denial over New Zealand Massacre

Trump Supporters in Denial over New Zealand Massacre

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 17.03.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Trump Supporters in Denial over New Zealand Massacre

US President Donald Trump condemned the New Zealand massacre of 50 people by a self-declared white fascist as “horrible”. In an ambiguous choice of words, Trump said he sent his “warmest [sic] sympathies” to the victims of the mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch. He also seemed to downplay white supremacy violence as a problem.

With several surviving victims still in a critical condition, the death toll could rise in coming days.

Of course, Trump would be obliged to join in the international outpouring of condemnation over the barbaric cold-blooded act of mass murder. How could he not, given the shocking horror and depravity of the crime?

But his repeated nationalistic and nativist rhetoric as well as the ideologues whom he associates with make it very hard for Trump and his supporters to deny that there is a link between the White House occupant and the terrorist attack on Muslims in New Zealand, or white supremacist violence generally.

Supporters of Trump have scoffed at media claims made against Trump following the massacre insinuating the president is associated with “white nationalism” and thereby linked to the violence.

Admittedly, anti-Trump media in the US, such as CNN and MSNBC, will always seek every opportunity to undermine Trump. Nevertheless, on the point of Trump’s dalliance with extremist rightwing groups and their ideological memes there is a valid criticism to be made.

The alleged shooter in the New Zealand attack Friday was named as Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian citizen. He openly declared himself to be a fascist, avowing white supremacist ideology. In a so-called manifesto, the suspect refers to Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity”.

More significantly, the themes the alleged murderer espouses are central to the Alt Right movement and numerous other white nationalist groups in the US and Europe, issues which Trump has also promoted for political gain.

The themes of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, white genocide by “invasion” or “replacement” by brown-skinned foreigners are run-of-the-mill talking points for far-right nationalist movements, which Trump has at times endorsed or given credence to.

Only days before the New Zealand massacre, Trump gave an exclusive interview with Breitbart News. The publication is a proponent of many of the themes surrounding fears of the “white race” being over-run by hordes of foreigners, and especially Muslim foreigners.

In his latest interview for Breitbart, Trump appeared to be inciting street violence by imploring his followers in the police and military to “get tough”. He tweeted a link to the publication. But following the horror in Christchurch, Trump deleted his tweet. That move suggests the president is fully aware of the toxic association with Breitbart at such a politically sensitive moment.

Trump and his supporters may try to play the innocent card, decrying what they would call are scurrilous attempt by the “liberal media” to bracket him with the violence of the far-right.

However, what else is one to conclude about Trump when he has personally amplified the touchstone causes of numerous fascist, white nationalist groups?

This week, Trump has pushed on with his border wall project. He has repeatedly sought to justify that project in sensationalist, scaremongering terms of preventing an “invasion” into the US from Mexico. The actual figures of migration over the southern border do not merit such high priority given by Trump to the “problem”. The proposed expenditure of $8-9 billion and declared state of emergency are “dog-whistling” techniques by Trump to mobilize far-right nationalist support.

Look at the people who associate with Trump. He may claim that their association is not reciprocated.

White neo-Nazi groups like Proud Boys and Alt Right have been hosted at Trump rallies. Alt Right leader Richard Spencer is partial to giving Nazi salutes at conferences and declaring “Hail Trump!”

David Duke, the grandmaster of the Klu Klux Klan, has publicly endorsed Trump.

Steve Bannon, Trump’s former political strategist in the White House, is a big proponent of the “replacement theory” whereby it is claimed that Muslim, African and other immigrants are “invading” the US and Europe to obliterate traditional white Christian communities. This was a prime motive for the alleged shooter in the New Zealand massacre. It was also a motive for the mass murder in 2011 by Norwegian neo-Nazi Anders Breivik.

Trump has taken up the cause of white South African farmers who claim that they are being expelled from colonial lands by the ruling ANC black government. This theme has also been taken up in Zimbabwe, and is a major touchstone issue for white supremacist, fascist groups around the world. For Trump to dally with the issue is an unmistakable sign of his witting – albeit tacit – support to such ideology, even though he may publicly try to distance himself at times, such as in the aftermath of the Christchurch atrocity.

Typically with Trump there are abundant contradictions. His son-in-law and special advisor Jared Kushner is Jewish. Yet Trump was accused of giving support to a “Unite the Right Rally” in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, where the torch-bearing marchers chanted slogans about not being replaced by Jews.

There seems little room for denial by Trump or his supporters about his links to the rise of extreme rightwing, white nationalist, fascist groups. His blanket ban on asylum-seekers from Muslim countries, his unhinged rhetoric about “invasion” by foreigners, and Trump’s association with racist, fascistic ideologues all put this president in the dock for incitement. The reckless rhetoric of Trump’s demagoguery is manifest in depraved actions such as the mass murder of 49 Muslims in New Zealand.

Trump can’t wash his hands after cynically dabbling in the cesspool of fascist ideology.

The fifth suspect of Christchurch shootings has defected to israel (apartheid state)

Source

A suspect confronted the court, two other under investigation; reports about another suspect who left for Israel faces the silence of authorities.

The attack to two mosques in Christchurch, a city in eastern New Zealand, has led to the death of 49 people leaving dozens seriously injured. The terrorist, holding a camera on head live-streaming the attack on Facebook, rushed the Al-Noor mosque with a gun and then fled to streets continuing to shoot the passers-by.

The live-stream stopped a few streets away while minutes later another mosque, Linwood mosques, was targeted by another attack. Most casualties, nevertheless, were reported in the first attack.

The local authorities announced that less than an hour after the attack, the main suspect, a 28-year-old Australian, was arrested while three others were also put under investigation. One suspect was released from custody after the end of primary investigations.

It remains unclear if the attackers of the two mosques were the same or there were five attackers involved. One of the terrorists managed to escape the country hours after Friday noon. The fifth attacker has defected to Israel with the help of unknown aides. No official reaction has been made by Tel Aviv or local authorities on the issue yet.

While the main suspect has confronted the court a day after the terrorist attack, the local authorities has made no remark about his partner(s) in the brutal act.

The distance between the two mosques seems to show that the terrorist would have no chance to get to the second mosque if he were alone. Besides, considering the fact that the attack was terroristic in nature, as the New Zealand Prime Minister asserted, the involvement of other individuals, or other countries, seems probable

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