Jummah Remembrance: Vigil for Lives Taken in Christchurch
A vigil has been organised by a coalition of community groups led by Muslims, tangata whenua and migrants standing in firm solidarity with Aotearoa’s Muslim community, following the violent white supremacist terrorist attack targeting two Christchurch mosques. The event is planned to take place a week after the massacre, on Friday the 22nd of March at 6 pm to mourn and remember the 50 lives that were unjustly taken. This is a firm rejection of Islamophobia and xenophobic/racist violence. More than 10, 000 are expected to attend the vigil at Auckland Domain.
“Many of us are deep in grief, in sadness and anger at the white supremacist and Islamophobic terrorist acts that took place in Ōtautahi yesterday. At times like these, we need to look out for each other, check in with our friends, colleagues and family. At times like these, we are carrying the pain and trauma of witnessing directly or indirectly of the horrific violence enacted by white supremacist and Islamophobic ideologies.” said Mehwish, vigil organiser.
“We are shocked and grieving the tragic loss of lives. Muslim communities in Aotearoa and around the world have been ongoing targets of Islamophobic scapegoating since 9/11, and it is important that we view the Christchurch massacre in this context. We must confront the fact that Aotearoa’s Muslim communities have been under state surveillance for two decades, yet a white supremacist terrorist openly publicised and orchestrated an attack on the community, with his movements unintercepted.” continues Nishhza, vigil spokesperson
Rhetoric such as “This is Not Us” which claims that the Christchurch shooting is atypical of New Zealand history is dishonest and should be questioned. Muslim and migrant New Zealanders are not unfamiliar targets of Islamophobic and racist abuse. In schools, in job seeking, at their workplace, on public transport, and at their places of worship are all sites where almost every non-pakeha New Zealander will have endured covert or overt racial violence.
Aotearoa is a settler colonial state founded on racist ideology. It has seen a 200-year long history of abuse and exploitation of Māori and Māori land, and many on social media assert that Friday’s massacre is a product of this history. Pākehā continue to see for themselves better social outcomes compared to tangata whenua and migrant communities and furthermore, migrant and Māori communities are routinely pitted against each other in the mainstream media. The coalition of groups: Migrants Against Racism and Xenophobia, Auckland Peace Action, Shakti NZ, Racial Equity Aotearoa, and Asians Supporting Tino Rangatiratanga are committed to standing together against Islamophobia and racism while upholding tino rangatiratanga.
“I think it’s really important to unite against white supremacy. I think it’s really important to show, as a Māori woman, that Muslim people are welcome here,” said Māori spokesperson Sina Brown-Davis, Auckland Peace Action.
Amongst the speakers at the vigil are Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman, Sharon Hawke from Ngāti Whātua o Orākei, Farida Sultana from Shakti NZ, Faisal Al-Asaad, Israa Falah, Mahmoud Shary, Tamkeen Saeid, and Rafiqah Solomon from Migrants Against Racism and Xenophobia. The vigil will be opened by Ngāti Whatua.