Those were the last words of the first victim of the Christchurch mosque shootings, and the reply was three bullets.
The terrorist attacks on Al Noor and Linwood mosques on the 15th of March 2019 were the worst mass shooting New Zealand had ever had, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describing them as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”. They happened during Friday prayer, known as Jumu’ah, where many Muslim families will go to mosque and pray together – between 300 to 500 people may have been inside Al Noor Mosque attending Friday prayer at the time of the shooting. 50 people were killed (from 3 years to 77 years old) and many others seriously injured. For the first time, New Zealand’s terrorism threat level was raised to high.
When I first heard about the attacks I felt, like everyone else, shocked. It was a stark reminder that despite living in a world where equality is better than it has ever been, people are losing their lives purely because of their faith. In particular, islamophobia is on the rise. Negative stereotypes surrounding the Muslim community mean that when people think of the word ‘terrorist’, often the word ‘Muslim’ will come to mind.
Terrorism is not synonymous with Islam. Terrorism has no race, and no religion preaches violence. The attacker live streamed the first shooting. He shot children, young men and young women, mothers, fathers, brothers, grandparents – all because they were Muslims, because they were not white. Those who fail to see this as anything other than a terror attack do not truly understand the meaning of terrorism. As a society, recognising that islamophobia is increasing is hugely important, just as important as using your voice to support the Muslim community.