مكتب دراسات الشرق الاسلامي

Jacinda Ardern’s Speech: the Way to Save the Civilian West

Jacinda Ardern’s Speech: the Way to Save the Civilian West
By Muhanna al-Hubail

The messages given by Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, after the horrific massacre at Christchurch are based on some clear concepts which she has used to counter the effects of the terrorist attack on the two mosques. She aimed to pinpoint every main aspect of the crime and deal with it effectively so as to help speed up the healing process, which is not going to be easy. In fact, the Prime Minister is trying to raise a cultural shield against the designs of the extreme right and Islamophobia which is strengthening its roots in the West

In discharging her political responsibilities as the Prime Minister, Ms Ardern moved quickly and bravely to counter the two serious threats that the attack heralds. The first is the activation of the numerous cells that do not conceal their Islamophobia and hostility towards immigrants. Some of these cells are certainly kept on watch in several Western countries and some are clearly known to have their own stocks of arms. The other threat is the fear that the attack could be manipulated by ISIS and other angry extremist groups to launch attacks against civilians in New Zealand and elsewhere

We may mention here that the families of the victims of the attack and the representatives of the Muslim community in New Zealand have shown a highly positive sense of responsibility. They reacted in an inspiring and civilised way to the Prime Minister’s speech and the sympathetic attitude of people in all strata of the New Zealand society. Such a united spirit and togetherness are to be applauded as they emphasise the ideals of social justice and equality in civilised society

However, the Muslim community of New Zealand, the state and the people as a whole are now facing a serious challenge. There is first of all the fear that Islamophobia will be again on the rise, leading to political gains by some forces that are hostile to the Muslim population. This will be a repeat of what happened in Quebec in Canada, following the attack on its main mosque in 2017. The main issue there was not the light sentence given to the terrorist who staged the attack. There is something far more important

The main issue is the political manipulation of such events, looking primarily at winning the anti-Muslim votes. As this may lead to deny Muslim citizens in the West some of their civil rights, feelings of estrangement will be more acutely felt by Muslims, particularly when they realise that they are being watched by the government and the media. Such feelings are strange in contemporary Western states. We note that there are deliberate attempts to delay the enactment of new legislation to counter Islamophobia. Such delays represent a serious cause of the renewed danger that threatens Muslim citizens in the West

We note the timid reaction of the Western right to the attack in New Zealand. Such reaction is more significant than the attempt of the extremist member of parliament in Australia to put the blame for the Christchurch attack on Muslims. The reaction of a youth who hurled an egg on that MP in protest was met with well deserved and broad-based approval

We also note that the Conservative government in Britain has not taken any steps to enact any legislation to deter such attacks after the terrorist attack that targeted worshippers leaving the Muslim Welfare House in North London in Ramadan, nearly two years ago. What all this shows is that once the rising sympathy with Muslims who are targeted in such attacks has subsided, a more permanent hostile feeling against Muslims is given new fuel. What happens is that the media reverts to its old attitude of hostility against Muslims. Every new act perpetrated in Muslim countries by extremist groups or by the dictatorial regimes ruling in most Muslim countries is manipulated to stir emotions against the Muslim communities in the West. Indeed, the Western media shows no legal or moral scruples in putting increased pressure on Muslims generally

If New Zealand succeeds in presenting a different model, it will not only save its own Muslim citizens, but it will also safeguard the ideals of citizenship and universal justice within its borders. It will help in obstructing the return of the racist and ideological state in the West. This is, after all, a question of civilian and philosophical struggle. What we clearly mean is that the old moral and intellectual crisis in the essence of the Western outlook towards the East, the clear racist bias and suspicion of the other which is deeply rooted in Christian conscience are finding new strength in the Western mind. They are undermining some fundamental principles of the modern civil state and its positive achievements

The problem facing Western conscience today is that a part of the spirit of the Australian terrorist who launched the Christchurch attack has cultural and social dimensions. It also has political parties and groups. These are not confined to the southern parts of the world, but have their presence within the confines of the civil state. The question that faces the West is: how will it preserve social peace when its media and some significant political forces aim their weapons at its Muslim people, putting them in a kind of apartheid that keeps them a source of cheap labour and treats them as second class citizens?

This is what is happening today, as Muslim communities have to face the aggressive and well entrenched forces of Islamophobia. They feel let down by Western governments and they find limited support by other communities. Yet they are facing an increasing threat that will engulf others later. Some people try to justify this state of affairs on the basis that Islam represents a spiritual and civilizational philosophy that provides an alternative to the Western model which is going through a serious economic and social crisis. This model has not saved the world and does not give an answer to those who seek a sense of reassurance but cannot find it anywhere. Instead, humanity find itself facing a huge monster fed by hardline capitalism and the collapse of the moral left. Hence, we are not surprised that the Christchurch terrorist found his inspiration in an elected US President. The question is: how can Islam be responsible for such civilizational setback?

Perhaps we, Muslims, need to stress the importance of the Islamic open address which is often overlooked by advocates of Islam. Yet people saw its basis in the attitude of the families of the victims of the New Zealand terrorist attack. The open address that Muslims in the West need today is not a set of concepts and an agenda that is imposed on them, but the great principles of the message of Islam that stresses the dignity of the individual and social justice. It is through such principles that the process of civilisation of different peoples and nations can go forward and progress. Here we see a junction that achieves compatibility between civilised Islamic thought and the fair secular state. The two need never be in conflict

Would it not be better for Muslims to turn their attention to the achievement of this goal instead of stirring emotions in the East. The play on emotions could have easily utilised the terrorist attack in New Zealand to start a war between Muslims and non-Muslims in the West, raising slogans of neo-Ottomans and the secular West. Had this been allowed to happen we would have undermined the safety and future of our brethren in the West and lost the fight for freedom of thought and social justice in Islam