When I woke up Friday morning to the news of the massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, I felt sick. But sad
ly, not entirely surprised. I had been dreading this kind of violence happening, although I would have never imag
ined this kind of scale — 49 Muslim men, women and children killed in cold blood with such clinical, methodical precision and filmed for social media.
Islamophobia is on the rise and has been for some time. Muslims have been demonize
d, dehumanized and scapegoated on an industrial scale by society since 9/11.
No other group has been punished for the sins of the father in such a systematic and accepted way. Politicians, commen
tators, influencers and the media on the right have waged a war against Muslims that has become normalized.
The most powerful man on the planet, President Donald Trump, has sought to ban them fro
m entering the United States. British prime minister hopeful and former Foreign Secretary Bori
s Johnson made “jokes” insulting Muslim women, saying they looked like letter boxes. After those comments, Tell Mam
a, an organization that records Muslim hate incidents, reported that attacks on Muslim women went up.
They often take the form of pulling off a woman’s headscarf, espe
cially when she’s taking her children to and from school. Imagine what that does to a young
frightened and confused Muslim child? We have respected high-profile commentators who say that Islam
ophobia doesn’t exist and imply that “they” have brought it on themselves because of terrorism.
At least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured in two mass shootings at mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
The victims: Forty-one people were killed at the al Noor mosque. Seven people died at the Linwood mosque, and one person died from their injuries in hospital.
The suspect: Police said a male in his late 20s has been charged with murder and will appear at the Christchurch court Saturday morning local time.
The manifesto: In a social media post just before the attack, an account that is believed to belong to one of the attackers posted a l
ink to an 87-page manifesto that was filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack. The manifesto was not signed.
National security advisor John Bolton expanded upon the White House’s statement on the
attack on New Zealand mosques, which he characterized as “what seems to be a terrorist attack” and a “hate crime.”
Bolton said the US is “very concerned” and is following the events “very closely.”
“We’re obviously greatly disturbed on what seems to be a terror attack, this hate crime in New Zealand. We’ve been in touch
with our embassy overnight, we’re still getting details, but the State Department and others are following up on it.”
Bolton continued, “We’re very concerned, we’re going to cooperate with New Zealand authori
ties to the extent we can if there’s any role we can play, but we’re obviously following the events there very closely.”