Exactly one year ago, an incredibly heartbreaking tragedy left the world breathless. It left my community almost unconscious with the sheer inability to comprehend what happened a year ago, today, in the town of Christchurch, New Zealand.
On March 15, 2019, two mosques were subject to a terror attack, right after Friday prayer. The bloodstains left on both Masjid Al Noor and Linwood mosque haunt the world that witnessed this disaster.
Fifty-one lives lost. Fifty injured. A three-year-old child at the youngest to the beloved elderly of the beautiful Christchurch community — dead.
I remember when a friend of mine sent the video in our group chat last year. We had a midterm exam the next day and we were all up studying at 2 a.m.. The video of the shooting was taken down quickly after, but what we had seen had left its mark.
Upset, scared, disgusted — but not in disbelief.
In between two of my midterms, I was so distraught, that I spent an hour writing a very long Facebook post which I later put on Medium.
There was a vigil held on March 18 last year at Victoria Park in London to condemn the act. Oddly enough, I remember every detail. The silence amongst dozens of people, and how cold it was. But not as cold as the murders committed in cold blood. In hatred of religion — no religion teaches hate, but somehow these events keep occurring. And it’s not just Muslims, it is all minorities.
Reflecting on this a year later, and perhaps all the hate crimes that have ever taken place — whether publicized or not — among all the emotions possible, the conscious nature of hate is so sickening. It claims lives. We have conscious love — it’s the flowers you randomly bought your mother. It’s the random coffee you got for your stressed-out friend.
But what’s worse than hate is what fuels it: fear. Conscious fear.
Christchurch happened. But it takes love to snuff out the hate. And to snuff fear means making a conscious effort to converse and understand one another.
No doubt, Christchurch impacted our community and the world. How do we move forward, though?
As Western students, we are too privileged and removed from the specific event, but we are not isolated from the main issue or root cause. The answer to what we can do lies in a shift in personal attitudes.
Tolerance and respect is where we start but the goal should be allyship and love. Stepping up when you see something racist, islamophobic, homophobic, antisemitic, or anything else. Even if it doesn’t personally affect you, condemning these acts as a community is important.
— Aisha F. Khan, second-year health sciences