We write in profound love and sorrow in the wake of Friday’s terrorist attacks against people of Islamic faith, as they gathered together to worship in Christchurch. We send our deepest sympathy and support to those who are mourning the deaths and injuries of loved ones, and to all of you who are affected. The reality of such hatred and violence living amongst us is difficult to bear, but we must face it, and come together to love and support each other.
We take our lead from Action Station in offering ways to listen to and support Muslim communities and take action to challenge racism in its multiple forms. We include a list of links below. There will be important reflections and conversations in the days and weeks ahead. As historians, we should centre Muslim perspectives, as well as name and confront white supremacy in our past and present.
Tēnei te tuku i te aroha nui ki a tātou katoa, kia kaha e te whānau.
Labour History Project Committee
Donate to the victims and families
The New Zealand Islamic Information Centre has set up a crowdfunding campaign on Launchgood (a crowdfunding platform for Muslim people) with all funds raised distributed to the victims and families affected by the Christchurch attack. All proceeds will go towards helping with their immediate, short-term needs.
The New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups has also set up a crowdfunding campaign on Givealittle. Victim Support says it will use all donations received to the page to provide support and resources for people affected by the Christchurch shootings and their family members. This one has already raised $3 million from everyday New Zealanders, which I think is a bright spot in an otherwise very dark time.
Attend a memorial vigil
In Māori culture, one of the most important aspects of losing a loved one is the tangihanga or tangi. The word means to weep, and to sing a dirge (a lament for the dead).
Many thousands came together to vigil in Wellington and Invercargill on Sunday night, and other vigils are planned in the coming days:
· Christchurch – Thursday 21 March from 8.30pm – 9.30pm at Cathedral Square.
· Dunedin – Thursday 21 March in the Octagon.
· Auckland – Friday 22 March from 6pm – 7pm at Aotea Square.
· Nelson Race Unity Day – Sunday 24 March 24 in Victory Square.
Listen to the perspectives of Muslim people
Like with any religious, ethnic or age group, there are multiple perspectives and experiences within the Muslim community. Muslims are an ethnically diverse demographic hailing from 80 different countries around the world. They have been in Aotearoa since 1860.
Widening the articles we read, and the podcasts we listen to, to include a range of Muslim writers or producers is one way we can begin to understand these different perspectives. Here are a couple of pieces that have been written in the wake of the Christchurch attack.
· Christchurch mosque terror attacks a dark day of grief, shock and unspeakable heartbreak by Saziah Bashir, a freelance journalist who writes about social justice, race and gender.
· For us, life in New Zealand will never be the same by Sohail Din, a student at the University of Auckland, and member of the University of Auckland’s Muslim Students’ Association.
· The New Zealand mosques massacre and the denial of Muslim experience by Dr Asim Qureshi, research director at CAGE, a UK-based advocacy organisation working to empower Muslim communities impacted by the War on Terror.
Here is a podcast that came out in 2017, but is essential listening for anyone wanting to understand what life is like for a Muslim person living in New Zealand today.
· Public Enemy is an award-winning four-part podcast series from RNZ looking at the growing Muslim communities in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, and how elections, counter-terrorism policies, war and xenophobia have changed lives.
This violent attack on Muslim people who were praying peacefully was based on the gunman’s idea that white people are superior to people of colour. This idea was fuelled by the renewed rise of neo-Nazis, xenophobia and far-right extremism all over the world.
For the last few years, powerful people with platforms (some politicians, some media commentators, almost all giant tech corporations) have stoked racial division to sell ads, generate headlines and create fear among us for cheap votes and clicks.
This racism and hate was also allowed to fester, because we have not been doing enough to condemn casual racism when we see it.
Report Islamophobic and xenophobic comments when you see them. Read this guide from Amnesty International on how to tell someone you love they are being racist.
This is a good book for people working through how they might be complicit in white supremacy.
You can also check out the NZ Human Rights Commission’s toolkit on their Give Nothing To Racism website.
Volunteer to teach former refugees and migrants English
English Language Partners New Zealand has a volunteer teaching programme providing free English lessons to former refugees and migrants. They will train you to provide those who need it with the language skills and confidence necessary to integrate and participate fully in Aotearoa.