In the aftermath of the New Zealand mosques massacre, elected officials and members of the media are taking on the form of Muslims to show their support.
Even Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern — who has promised that outlawing semi-automatics is “just the beginning” of the country’s response to the 50-casualty shooting — donned a hijab. Likeminded women numbered in the thousands.
At Hagley Park near the shot-up Al Noor Mosque, Jacinda recited from the Quran in an Islamic ceremony. Moments later, a nationwide Muslim call to prayer followed.
I’m willing to bet this wasn’t quite the effect the mass murderer — allegedly, 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant — intended.
The show of solidarity spread across the media.
As reported by the Independent:
Newsreaders began broadcasts with Islamic greetings as the country’s national TV and radio stations aired coverage of the first Friday call to prayer since the atrocity.
New Zealand newspaper, The Press, printed Arabic text reading “Salam”, or peace”, on a striking front page along with the names of the victims of last week’s attack.
Islam is all the rage. Not just due to the shooting, but in response to any reports of discrimination against worshippers of Allah:
Samantha Hayes, an anchor of current affairs programme Newshub,said: “This week a young Auckland woman was abused on a train for being Muslim and wearing a headscarf. This happened after 50 people had been killed in Christchurch.
“I’m wearing a headscarf today for her, and for the families and friends of those killed in Christchurch a week ago.”
An Auckland doctor, Thaya Ashman, had led calls for women to wear headscarves on Friday after hearing about a Muslim who was too scared to go out as she feared her hijab would make her a target for terrorism.
Ms Ashman said: “I wanted to say: ‘We are with you, we want you to feel at home on your own streets, we love, support and respect you’.”
Some were hoping to confuse the next gunman:
As Christchurch geared up for prayers at a park in front of the Al-Noor mosque, where most of the victims were killed, women in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch posted pictures of themselves in headscarves on social media.
Bell Sibly, in Christchurch, said: “My primary reason was that if anybody else turns up waving a gun, I want to stand between him and anybody he might be pointing it at. And I don’t want him to be able to tell the difference, because there is no difference.”
Not all followers of the faith were pleased with the national display: In an op-ed for Stuff, a Muslim woman disparaged the acts as “cheap tokenism” and “pretty distasteful.”
Surprisingly, a Washington journalism professor, Asra Nomani, advised against sporting a non-Muslim hijab, and not because of cultural appropriation. Her reason was feminism:
Hi @rachelmacg, We at @freefromhijab are women from Muslim backgrounds. Pls do NOT wear a #headscarfforharmony with Muslims. It is a symbol of purity culture antithetical to feminist values. We have women in jail & dead, for refusing the interpretation of Islam you promote. https://t.co/BvY3xF1bhz
— Asra Q. Nomani, PI (@AsraNomani) March 21, 2019
Regardless, New Zealand’s put on quite the display.
Of course, we’re talking about a different country; but it’s hard to imagine the American press, in the wake of the Texas Sutherland Springs church shooting which took 26 lives, praising Jesus at the start of the 10 o’clock news. And I doubt The New York Times would’ve offered up an Amen.
Politics seems to be getting stranger and stranger. Group identity is replacing the notion of individualism, and there appears to be a hierarchy of such.
In my view, that’s a change not for the better. For any group.
Individualism is a core value of our country; and it looks to be slipping away. Hopefully, we can hold on. Not as Republicans or Democrats, as Christians or Muslims, but as Americans.