Following the recent massacre of 50 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand the country’s government acted swiftly to ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern needs appreciation for the decision for stricter gun control in order to make her country a safer place. The massacre should turn out to be a transformational event as every country must prevent such savage attacks on innocent people in a place of worship. The world is facing many violent attacks by groups claiming allegiance to this or that creed and innocent people of all faiths need to be protected from terror groups of all kinds. Like New Zealand, governments of other nations should ban possession and distribution of hate literature like the ‘manifesto’ believed to be written by the suspect behind the mosque attack. It was full of hatred against immigrants and Muslims. Hate literature influences gullible minds, especially youth, and triggers destructive thoughts of killing the objects of hate. No matter which religions the hate groups belong to, comprehensive steps should be taken to thwart their designs.
The hate ‘manifesto’ that surfaced after the Christchurch mosque massacre was a devilishly crafted document with references to white supremacist themes, slogans and conspiracy theories. The rifle magazines and other equipment visible in the video in which the attack was live streamed carried the names of victims of terror attacks allegedly committed by groups adhering to a particular religion in the West. All this was done to incite hate and keep the horrific story in circulation to get more recruits. Every country is faced with a deluge of hate literature and speech. Most of it today is online. All governments have a duty to raise awareness among people about avoiding such content. Such content, though wearing a facade of holiness, are attempts to incite more attacks against particular communities. Governments must urge people to report any social media posts, links or websites that spread hate and terror. People at large can play an important part by not falling prey to the literature circulated by those who incite hatred, killing and terror. No one should support murderous objectives of hate groups by republishing or distributing it.
The attack by white supremacists has damaged New Zealand’s image as an open and tolerant society. But New Zealanders at large have denounced the attack. To show solidarity with Muslims, who account for 1 per cent of the country’s population, they formed a human chain on the following Friday around the mosques to protect people gathered for prayers from any more attack. The series of steps taken by the New Zealand government and the broad sympathy that the people of all faiths in the country have expressed with the Muslim community would go a long way in healing the wounds of the families that lost their relations in the dastardly attack. Such attacks take place all around the world but if the government and people are firm in their rejection of hate and terror, the violent groups will be thwarted in their designs to cause death and injury and other kinds of harms to the people of other faiths. The world community should join hands to fight terror being unleashed in the name of religion, caste, race or creed and make the earth a safe place for all. Social media companies and internet’s gatekeepers must do everything to check spread of hate literature and speech.
It is evident from the hate literature that the attempt was made to link Muslims and immigrants with violence which has been familiar rhetoric to promote Islamophobia, nebulous anxieties about the other, and the bogey of a majority threatened by a minority. Terrorists do not belong to any religion. Leaders of all religions have been saying that the groups that spread hate and intolerance misuse the name of their religion to do their heinous acts. No religion teaches hate or violence against followers of any other religion. Terror groups work on the prejudices and exploit the social and economic conditions to exploit sentiments of people of a particular religion or community to spread terror. The way forward is to resolve any disputes or conflicts there are for a better and peaceful future for all. People of all faiths, castes and creeds must be allowed to coexist in peace and harmony. Terror groups exploit the sentiments of people and carry out acts which can only be called acts of vengeance. Healthy societies do not give any room to vengeance but understanding and peaceful resolution of conflicts.