It hurts. As my Muslim friends share their perspectives and emotions, I’ve realized how much the events of New Zealand have affected them personally. To think that mosques– places meant to serve as sanctuaries and safe spaces– were subject to brutal terrorism is painful. To think that “Salam”– a greeting meaning “peace”– was returned with a gunshot is terrifying. To think that innocent people– many of whom who left their country to escape violence and persecution– were heartlessly killed for the religion they practiced is angering. My friends are afraid. But this is not just an issue that affects “them.” It affects “us.” Because they are part of what makes “us.”
Some of the people closest to me are Muslim. When I think of them, I imagine the little children who would interrupt my Arabic homework to play with fidget spinners. I think of the girls with whom I’ve sang to 90s Bollywood songs at the top of my lungs or danced dabke. I remember the teachers who gave us unending coffee, cookies, life lessons, and love as we assembled in the classroom to study Arabic. I think of GirlForward, where my Afghani, Syrian, and Pakistani friends have taught me beautiful things about their cultures and lives. I think of Jordan, my host community, where I was welcomed for being Indian and American, and where, on my first day, I was told that “loving and respecting all religions is the most important part of being a good Muslim.”
In the aftermath of the New Zealand shootings, people across the world have been reaching out to their Muslim neighbors, and offering their kindness and love. But we shouldn’t have to wait for a heartbreaking act of terrorism to make us realize that we are one. We shouldn’t have to lose 49 innocent lives just to realize that we are human. It’s human nature to try to take the easy way out. So why can’t we just take it easy with this one? It is so much simpler to connect over our numerous similarities than to pick apart and dwell on differences. It’s about time that we, as a global society made of human beings, realize that an attack on one is an attack on all. This wasn’t just a blow to the Muslim community. It was a blow to humanity.
I am not Muslim. But I’m human enough to understand that we need to begin coming together and recognizing our similarities. Because in the end, we are one. We are “us.” So let’s start recognizing our role as supporters, friends, and community members, and coming together as people. As Hasan Minhaj beautifully said, “Our faith should never matter more than our humanity.”
Also, here is a BBC article about some of the people who lost their lives in Christchurch terrorist attacks. It’s important that we know their names and stories.