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Update: 16 March, 2019 08:30 AM
\'NZ was a safe haven, not anymore\'

\'NZ was a safe haven, not anymore\'

Photo/Getty Images

OPINION: Along with my fellow Kiwis - and the world - I have spent the past several hours reeling in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Central and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

As the death toll continued to climb, so did my sense of outrage, sorrow and utter disbelief. I also felt shock - but it was surprisingly short lived.

In light of the current state of the world I have long felt it was only a matter of time before there was a terrorist attack on New Zealand soil. Of course I hoped it could be prevented. I never expected it to happen so soon.

Now that it has and 49 people are dead, I find myself trying to process a multitude of tangled thoughts and emotions, even as they are swamped by an overwhelming sense of grief. I find myself feeling as I did on the morning of September 12, 2001 - September 11th in the United States - when I woke up to learn of the coordinated attacks on the Twin Towers, Pentagon and unconfirmed fourth target.

I can't help but feel that Friday's attacks will be New Zealand's 9/11. They weren't the work of a person who suddenly snapped and walked into a mosque with a gun. They were methodically planned and executed.

And while it's true that in terms of the number of deaths the two tragedies are scarcely comparable, considering the death tolls in terms of the percentage of each country's population, the deaths in New Zealand today are on the same order of magnitude as those on 9/11 (0.001 versus 0.0009 respectively).

Of course my heart goes out to the families and friends of all of the victims. Most of you probably came here out of danger to what you thought was a sanctuary, a safe place, far away from the terrors of persecution and war.

Some might argue that New Zealand is too far away. We are so far removed geographically, socially, and often politically, from the conflicts of the world that we are complacent.

We really are Middle Earth - or more accurately, the Shire - not completely unaware but almost unaffected, and dangerously uninterested in the unsettling goings on in the world beyond our borders. But no more. We cannot ignore them anymore.

I confess I am a little surprised at how keenly I feel the grief and horror of the situation. I am not a Muslim, and as far as I am aware I do not personally know any of the victims of Friday's attacks. Yet I feel like my stomach is in freefall and my heart has been torn from my chest. I feel as though one of my own close friends has died. I am in mourning for that friend, and that friend is my country.

Like many New Zealanders I am an avid traveller. I have spent several years travelling the world and am currently living overseas. In my travels I have encountered people from all walks of life and places both of astonishing beauty and fortunately only occasionally, shocking brutality.

Like everyone else I see the horrible things people do to each other on the news and, like most people, I feel profoundly sorry for the people involved. But it never truly affected me, until now. I always thought I knew how privileged I was to have grown up in New Zealand, but now, for the first time, I feel like I truly understand - I feel like that privilege has been stripped away.

For me, and many others like me, no matter what horrors the world threw at us, we could take comfort in the knowledge that we had and could go somewhere safe. No matter what happened in the world, New Zealand would be a refuge. Today I realise how naïve I have been. As I sit digesting what has taken place in my beloved country I feel as though the carpet has been ripped out from underneath me.

That sense of safety has gone and I now realise just how much I have been relying on New Zealand as a subconscious stalwart of sense and tolerance in my mind. Unknowingly, alongside my family and friends, New Zealand as a country - my country - has been my rock in an increasingly restless and intolerant world. Today a huge chunk of that rock has splintered off and gone crashing down into a dark and turbulent ocean.

I'm sure many other Kiwis feel the same. We will all grieve in different ways. In part I am writing this to help diffuse my sense of anger and betrayal by a handful of people who would try to so tarnish our nation.

Amidst the outrage I must extend my gratitude and appreciation to our emergency services and no doubt the many other unsung heroes of the day for being able to act quickly and prevent a horrific situation from being worse. Time will tell if and when we New Zealanders - born, raised, or resettled from abroad - may be able to rebuild our shattered foundation of peace and stability.

If we take nothing else from this terrible day, let it be a renewed appreciation and mindfulness of the importance of tolerance and understanding of our fellow human beings. We must all be willing to learn from and teach other about cultures and beliefs other than our own. Only then will we be able to build the necessary foundation of mutual respect and understanding that can eliminate ignorance and prevent it from festering into extremism, both at home, and abroad.

To anyone who is not willing to do this, you are categorically not welcome. You don't deserve to call yourself a Kiwi, or to walk our otherwise peaceful streets or consume our precious resources. Keep your hate-mongering to yourself. Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it right when she said "you may have chosen us, (but) we utterly reject and condemn you."

Kia kaha New Zealand. Find courage, have confidence and above all, be kind.

সম্পাদক : ইমদাদুল হক মিলন,
নির্বাহী সম্পাদক : মোস্তফা কামাল,
ইস্ট ওয়েস্ট মিডিয়া গ্রুপ লিমিটেডের পক্ষে ময়নাল হোসেন চৌধুরী কর্তৃক প্লট-৩৭১/এ, ব্লক-ডি, বসুন্ধরা, বারিধারা থেকে প্রকাশিত এবং প্লট-সি/৫২, ব্লক-কে, বসুন্ধরা, খিলক্ষেত, বাড্ডা, ঢাকা-১২২৯ থেকে মুদ্রিত।
বার্তা ও সম্পাদকীয় বিভাগ : বসুন্ধরা আবাসিক এলাকা, প্লট-৩৭১/এ, ব্লক-ডি, বারিধারা, ঢাকা-১২২৯। পিএবিএক্স : ০২৮৪০২৩৭২-৭৫, ফ্যাক্স : ৮৪০২৩৬৮-৯, বিজ্ঞাপন ফোন : ৮১৫৮০১২, ৮৪০২০৪৮, বিজ্ঞাপন ফ্যাক্স : ৮১৫৮৮৬২, ৮৪০২০৪৭। E-mail : [email protected]