A week after the terror attack in New Zealand the official announcement of the defeat the Islamic State group has been made. Now the violence of this barbaric group can no longer be used to justify retaliatory violence against Muslims. In many ways the job of distancing ordinary Muslims from extreme ones has been done successfully. It is now difficult to claim that ordinary Muslims and extremists are one entity.
Fortunately, Muslims have equipped themselves in a dignified manner since the events of at last week. The family of the victims have been accorded respect by New Zealanders and the rest of the world - partly because Muslims in New Zealand have shown laudable humility in abject grief - not a word of anger has been expressed about the killer.
Equally, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has not put a foot wrong - saying the right word at the right time. Her demonstration of empathy will forever be in the hearts of Muslims. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Muslims have called out the bigotry displayed by politicians and some elements of the mainstream media.
Politicians have been held accountable for the climate of hate perpetuated by some. A re-examination of media coverage and a balance has been struck putting the finely-tuned Muslim discourse on the moral high ground.
Make no mistake - unless Muslims double down and reject the poisonous Islamic State group rhetoric and fight to defend Islam against accusations of hatred; the gains made in recent days will be lost. Likewise, Muslims must be vigilant and fight back against Muslims in our ranks working to the distort the Islamic message and feed into anti-Muslim narratives.
The bottom line is we must not allow the death of 51 of our brothers and sisters to be in vain. The wider community should continue the process of soul-searching. While right wing conservatives struggle to distance themselves away from the accusation of creating a climate of fear, Muslims have to continue to point out that the non-violent extremist attitudes create the oxygen for violent extremism to surface.
Contrary to the opinion of the United States’ President, Donald Trump, Muslims should be under no illusion - white nationalism affecting Jews, Muslims and People of Colour is no small problem. The words of Jamelle Bouie, New York Times opinion columnist are poignant. He points out that the extremist dream of a white ethno-state is not too far removed from more ordinary people who defend segregated neighbourhoods and schools.
Bouie goes on: “The people who target mosques at home are channeling our disregard for Muslim lives abroad. Settler societies built on the removal and extermination of native peoples will produce ideologies that treat those actions as good, even laudatory.”
He ends on a profound conclusion “Which is just to say that as we struggle against the forces behind these decades of violence, from Oklahoma City to Christchurch, we must remember that we aren’t fighting with strangers. Instead, we are confronting the very worst of our legacy — wrestling with our own shadows.”
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