I woke up to my social media timelines flooded with a real-life horror story. I scrolled through countless tweets and swiped through agonizing Instagram stories that all discussed the events of March 15. Anyone from news reporters to politicians to my own friends all contributed to the conversation of the heartbreaking event. I went to sleep thinking the next day would be another regular Friday. I would attend the religious prayer service that is held every Friday, the holiest day of the week in Islam. Instead, I woke up to news that shook me to my core and made my heart heavy.
A gunman walked into a New Zealand mosque, a Muslim place of worship, and brutally massacred 50 Muslims and injured 50 more attending the Friday service, according to the latest CNN news update.
The event continues to be discussed because some of us cannot fully bear the weight of all that has happened to our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. A mosque is a place of peace. It is a place that welcomes the entire community, whether one is Muslim or not. It is a place where I spent my weekends growing up. To even imagine a place I look to for strength can be under life-threatening harm is truly sickening.
The condolences from influential persons, like Mark Ruffalo, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made me feel like the world might actually be with us Muslims. It felt like others had our backs in this time of need. While this is true and there were countless citizens who showed their support, it was obvious that this did not mean Islamophobia was dead.
A white man walked into a public space and killed 50 people. After he was finished with that, he went back to his car and reloaded his gun to shoot the victims in the head again. Despite this all being true, some media sites and some non-Muslims refuse to label him as a “terrorist.” This man walked into the mosque and was greeted with the words “hello brother,” yet the media can still not see the truly vicious and despicable nature of this man and his actions.
The Daily Mirror, a British newspaper, used these words on its front cover after the New Zealand attack: “Angelic boy who grew into an evil far-right mass killer,” with the image of a father holding a little boy. Compare this to Daily Mirror’s front cover shortly after the Orlando club shooting that said “ISIS maniac kills 50 in gay club.”
Nobody is denying that the actions of the Orlando shooter were sickening and disgusting, but why are the deaths of these Muslims less real? Just because the perpetrator was a white man, the media continues to victimize his story instead of focusing on the true victims of the crime. The story of these Muslims will be pushed aside and forgotten if this man is not given the treatment he deserves. Rather than putting all the attention on the shooter, front covers must be dedicated to those who died in this horrific attack.
An Australian senator published a statement shortly after the attack saying, “Just because the followers of this savage belief were not the killers in this instance does not make them blameless.” I will not name him because he should not be receiving this much attention for his words, but it just shows how Muslim hate is alive and real across the globe. Our community could be slaughtered in the streets, yet since we come from a minority group, people will still choose the side of the white man.
This attack should affect all people, not just Muslims. It has the right to be reported with the same fervor as any other story. The Muslims who died March 15 deserve respect, and they have not been receiving it. Everyone has the responsibility to condemn this man and other actions like this. As Hasan Minhaj said “Our faith should never matter more than our humanity.”
People should recognize the hate in the world, and the need to combat it. The terrorist said he was inspired by President Donald Trump and his white supremacist beliefs. This should be enough to scare the people of the United States. Americans must understand that even though this president may not be directly affecting certain individuals, his words have a real impact. His rhetoric fills people with malice and hate while supporting their racist, xenophobic actions. We must support each other no matter race, religion or anything else that might seemingly separate us.