On Friday 15th March I was sitting in my office in Brisbane, checking Facebook when my world stopped.. again
It was a post by a friend asking if anyone knew what was happening on Deans Ave.
A comment said there was a shooting.
Then I checked stuff.co.nz.
Some coward had gone into the Masjid Al Noor Mosque in the city while men were attending to Friday prayers. And he started shooting.
This person then drove about five of kilometres away to the suburb of Linwood and opened fire at Linwood Masjid.
50 innocent men, women & children were killed. Murdered by a group of people who obviously had no idea about the Muslim faith.
I am not going to sit here & pretend that there haven’t been those who proclaim they follow the Muslim faith and have done atrocious things in the name of their faith but not every Muslim is a terrorist and not every terrorist is Muslim.
We have witnessed senseless attacks around the world and watched in horror the aftermath of those left behind. I have always had some kind of detachment with these attacks unless I have personally to the place.
The shooting in Strasbourg last year really hit me hard because I had been there about a week or so before.
But then the 15th March 2019 came and MY hometown was the site of this carnage. The streets I have walked had blood over them. I knew people who worked close by the Deans Ave attack. I knew Linwood very well, having gone to school and then worked in the area.
I have struggled since Friday. A lot more than I thought I would.
How do you put into words how you feel about senseless violence just because someone wanted to prove this could happen anywhere if it happened in Christchurch.
After the earthquakes in 2010/2011 I struggled but this was different. This wasn’t the earth moving and shaking. This wasn’t able to be explained by scientific proof of tectonic plates moving to cause a deadly earthquake.
This was a person who took it upon themselves to shoot innocent and defenseless people who were going about their every day lives. This was someone coming into a place of prayer, a place of peace and killing children.
This cannot be explained away by science.
This was just a senseless act of violence.
But what the perpetrators did not know was that the community would not rally behind them and want Muslims out of the city. No.
The community has rallied behind those in the Muslim faith. There have been vigils all over the world to remember those killed and to support those who have been left behind.
Since Friday over $6.6 million has been raised for the families of those affected.
I am going to leave this post with a letter posted to FB by Jinghan Naan. It is a letter to those who undertook these attacks.
“Appreciate that you made the effort to find out the timing of our noon prayer.
Appreciate that you learnt more about our religion to know that Fridays are the days the men go to the Mosques for their congregational prayers.
But I guess there were some things you, rather unfortunately, didn’t get to learn.
Perhaps you didn’t know that what you did probably made them Martyrs.
And how you have single-handedly raised the statuses of our brothers and sisters in the eyes of their beloved Creator with your actions. And how, through your actions, they will be raised as the most righteous and pious of Muslims.
Perhaps you didn’t know that doing what you did, at the time and place you chose, it actually meant that the last words that escaped their lips were probably words of remembrance and praise of Allah. Which is a noble end many Muslims could only dream of.
And perhaps you didn’t know, but what you did would almost guarantee them paradise.
Appreciate that you showed the world how Muslims welcome, with open arms, even people like yourself into our Mosques, which is our second home.
Appreciate you for showing that our mosques have no locks or gates, and are unguarded because everyone and anyone is welcome to be with us.
Appreciate you for allowing the world to see the powerful image of a man you injured, lying on back on the stretcher with his index finger raised high, as a declaration of his faith and complete trust in Allah.
Appreciate how you brought the Churches and communities together to stand with us Muslims.
Appreciate that you made countless New Zealanders come out of their homes to visit the mosques nearest to them with flowers and beautiful messages of peace and love.
You have broken many many hearts and you have made the world weep. You have left a huge void.
But what you also have done have brought us closer together. And it has strengthened our faith and resolve.
In the coming weeks, more people will turn up in the Mosques, a place you hate so much, fortified by the strength in their faith, and inspired by their fallen brothers and sisters.
In the coming weeks, more non Muslims will turn up at the gates of mosques with fresh flowers and beautifully handwritten notes. They may not have known where the mosques in their area was. But now, they do. All because of you.
You may have achieved your aim of intended destruction, but I guess you failed to incite hatred, fear and despair in all of us.
And while I understand that it may have been your objective, I hate to say that after all of that elaborate planning, and the perverse and wretched efforts on your part, you still failed to drive a divide among the Muslims and non-Muslims in the world.
For that, I can’t say that I’m sorry.”