We woke to news of at least 49 Muslims murdered in New Zealand by far-right fanatics.
We watched – or consciously avoided watching – in horror the live-streamed footage of Muslims being gunned down while praying. How depraved has society become when social media is used to lionise massacres?
I had to tell my children about the attack. I told them not to watch the videos or to be afraid of being who they are: Muslims.
Today, the media and politicians like American president Donald Trump and former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, have condemned the attacks. The same media and the same politicians have helped spread hatred against Muslims and Islam. They have blood on their hands.
This terrible mass murder was committed on the other side of the world supposedly in the name of “Europe”. There are lessons for us here in Britain, just as there are across the world.
This hatred is institutional. We knew Islamophobia was endemic in the Conservative party, but we turned a blind eye. Not anymore.
The perpetrator was Australian.
This senator is Australian.
He has blood on his hands .
Call out the bigotry and hold people responsible.
Enough is enough.#Christchurch
Do not dare say that Islamophobia does not exist. The media and politicians must be held to account.
If we allow fanatics to turn up outside mosques with their banners of hate, and give airtime and social media platforms to the likes of Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins, this is what happens.
If we continue to allow “think-tanks” to provide ammunition to parliamentarians and far-right leaders under the guise of “credible reports”, this is what happens.
This type of hatred is not confined to any country, but is widespread across the world.
Muslims are imprisoned in China; there are attacks on Muslims by Hindu nationalists in India; Rohingya Muslims are being ethnically cleansed in Myanmar. All of this is done in the name of tackling “extremism”, while ignoring the bigotry all around us.
Politicians might speak of their concern for the victims and families, but on a daily basis, many people are targeted by the far-right, as politicians have enabled a destructive discourse.
It’s time to admit that the UK’s Prevent strategy is not working. The “war on terror” has only fuelled hatred of Muslims in the general population, and distrust of the state among Muslim communities.
In 2013, the UK nearly suffered a similar attack against multiple mosques. Mosque security should be a major priority going forward.
Although Facebook was quick to remove a graphic video of the Christchurch attack, why was no action taken in response to previous posts threatening violence against Muslims?
How many more innocent people have to die before governments take a long, hard look at their role in creating this mess?
While many far-right extremists are celebrating the New Zealand attack, as a Muslim, I can promise you this: The more you attack us, the stronger and more united Muslims will become.
Today, the mosques will be packed – more than ever before – as prayers are offered for those killed. Muslims will never be afraid of bowing down to Allah, and nothing will stop us from doing so.
Siema Iqbal is a mother, a doctor and a British Muslim opinion writer based in Manchester. She is currently a partner and trainer at a North Manchester GP practice. She enjoys writing and can often be found public speaking and raising money and awareness for charities both in the UK and abroad.
This article was originally published by “MEE”
The 21st Century