By Zayed Tabish
On 15 March 2019 a tragedy occurred when a man tried to spread hate with bullets, believing he could terrorize the good people of New Zealand, believing he could stop Islam.
He only succeeded in achieving the opposite, the khutbah was televised, the Islamic call to prayer was made to reach in every home and house of the country, the Prime Minister of New Zealand herself wore a hijab and quoted hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) on national television. Verses of the Holy Qur’an were recited in Parliament of New Zealand:
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.
And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah that they are dead. Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not. And we will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” (Surah Baqarah: 153-156)
On 15 March 2019, the man and his terrorism failed.
As an Australian Muslim I can say that the world can be a cesspool of hate. While the terrorist himself was a deranged villain, there are many others to blame: the media, the atmosphere of Islamophobia, and xenophobic white supremacist politicians.
Yet in the middle of this crisis one leader rose up: Jacinda Ardern. She told the mourners of Christchurch that “we are one”, she knew that in dark times people must stand together, and she did not allow terrorists the notorious fame they long for. She took the opportunity to welcome all to New Zealand regardless of their faith or nationality.
Arden has not only shown compassion in her speech, but in her actions too. Since her first speech about the shootings she had started empathizing with the victims. She acted immediately to change gun laws to make the community safer. She spent time and stood along with the victims’ community. She was the first one to call the villain a “terrorist and an extremist,” whilst the media and other politicians were still afraid to do so. In a speech she emphasized “you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.” She has been praised for her humanity and standing strong in the face of crisis.
Ardern is a true leader. Due to the fact that she stood up to help victims and stood alongside them, the whole of New Zealand followed suite. True leadership reminds us that perhaps the world doesn’t need to be a cesspool of hate and perhaps we can all come together for the common good. The world needs more true leaders.
Zayed Tabish is an Australian national of Indian origin.He is studying in class 8th at New English School, Kuwait.