The details are still emerging but there has been an apparent terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand during the congregational Friday prayers. The attacks were pre-planned and were live streamed from the body cameras the attackers were wearing . We are certainly living in troubled times and even the places of worship are not safe- and in fact are the prime target for the haters.
The city of Christchurch is on a lockdown. The citizens are asked to stay put and not even go look for their children at school and at work. The search for the attackers is still ongoing and as of the writing of this post (1030 PM Pacific time), nine worshippers have been confirmed dead and four people have been arrested.
New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush told reporters that there were multiple improved explosive devices attached to vehicles as part of the attack, adding to the belief that these terror attacks were carefully planned and coordinated, which makes it even more scary. The police has reported a 37-page manifesto by the attackers. The police have also asked people to not share the graphic video of the attacks that was live streamed on social media.
This is not ‘some crazy guy” opening fire due to a mental illness.
Islamophobia is a global phenomenon, and it is not confined to the USA, Europe, or India only. Hate knows no boundaries.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has described the shootings as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
The attacks are a stark reminder that the places of worship are no longer sacred and no longer can be viewed as ‘sanctuary’.
We cannot worship in fear, but we do need to be ever more vigilant. I think the Muslims in America still live in a ‘white zone’, feeling this cannot happen here. I hope they are right, but we cannot afford to conduct ‘business as usual’ anymore.
Just like the synagogues, the mosques have a target on them.
There needs to be a coordinated effort with local law enforcement agencies and other religious and community leaders to ensure the safety of the worshippers. The mosque boards and leadership need to take special security measures when they conduct the Juma (Friday) prayers They also need to look at the long term picture and seriously consider making their facilities more secure and install video cameras and have uniformed security guards patrol during prayers and other functions at the mosques.
This may seem odd, but unfortunately we are living in very different times.
Council on American-Islamic Relations- CAIR has published an advisory titled Muslim Community Safety Kit. I urge the mosque leadership to take it seriously and follow their recommendations.
My heart goes out to the victims and their families and friends and the entire local community victimized by haters and fear mongers. May the victims rest in peace and may God grant them the highest place in Jennah. Ameen.
Updated March 15, 2019 at 727 AM PST:The death toll has risen to 49.