Words cannot express adequately the pain and anguish we feel at the heinous attacks in New Zealand. We share the anguish of our fellow Muslims at those who have orchestrated such diabolical carnage in a place of prayer. As husbands, fathers and grandfathers, both of us can only imagine the pain and suffering felt by the families affected by this tragedy. In the weeks and months ahead, we must all stand together and raise aloft those values that must form the core of Islamic belief that we share with People of the Book– compassion, respect and dignity. If we fail in this, then terror is victorious.
Those ideologues and demagogues who set themselves above the rights of man and the laws of God have no place in our world, no matter who their victims or what their ideologies are. Their targets reflect the increasing polarisation of people worldwide, where hatred and fear can be spread and exacerbated at the click of a mouse, and where atrocities are streamed live for the voyeuristic thrills of criminal extremists and white supremacists. If it is true that ‘evil only wins when good people do nothing’, then let us now raise our collective voices, both Christians and Muslims alike, in repulsion and condemnation of these attacks.
Let us move away from the insidious culture that allows everyday hatred to creep into how we think about each other. Let us remember that it is empathy and not ethnicity that creates a community. Let us instead focus our thoughts on the shared humanity, which ties us to each other more deeply than any superficial differences might suggest.
We echo the words of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who spoke about the ostracisation of immigrants and the Muslim community. “They are us,” she said and we would add, “and we are you.
This is a time not only for good government, but more importantly, for good governance. We must face up to the divisions blighting our world. We must all work together to defeat hatred and give hope. This is not a mission of optimism, but one of necessity.
We may never properly come to terms with the senseless hatred that fuelled this outrage. However, we must offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who lost their lives and our support to the wounded survivors of these attacks as they struggle to recover from the physical and mental trauma. Let us draw strength from our faith and our shared values. Most importantly, these terrible attacks must not be allowed to feed the hateful inhumanity of the few. Rather, these images of death and destruction must strengthen our compassion and elevate our common humanity. Instead of retribution and prolonged vitriolic responses, let us call now for peace and decency, standing together as one. When all is said and done, our conscience may question, “What part did I play? Did I help or was I part of the problem?” Now is the time to cling onto our shared ideals, our hopes and to the ties that bind us all, no matter where we come from or who we are. Now we work to overcome this darkness and remember that, in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.’
In these dark moments we wish to assure the peace-loving government and people of this exemplary nation that we are all New Zealanders.
*The signatories are HRH Prince Hassan Bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, Executive Director of the Geneva Centre on Human Rights and Global Dialogue