After last week’s horrific terrorist shooting by a white supremacist at two Christchurch mosques that claimed 50 lives, all Muslim immigrants, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is only 38 years old, has given remarkable leadership not only to her country but to the world.
Since Islamophobia is rampant worldwide, especially in Western societies, due to terrorism being adopted as their key instrument by Islamists, European and American leaders haven’t shown too much sympathy for Muslim migrants and refugees fleeing the wars and economic dislocation in their home countries. Ms Ardern could easily have got away by being just polite and correct in the face of the terrorist tragedy. But she chose not to.
In her first remarks after the Christchurch massacre, she noted: “The person who carried out the terrorist attack has no place in New Zealand (he’s an Australian)... Many of those affected are members of our migrant communities — New Zealand is their home — they are us.”
At once this observation closes the gap between settled the majority communities in a society and “outsiders”, bridges the colour and race divide between white and non-white, and the marker of religion between New Zealand’s Christian majority and Muslims. US President Donald Trump and many European leaders have much to learn from this.
In India too, in recent times, there has been an ongoing effort by some elements to draw a cleavage between the country’s Hindu majority and Muslims, although the latter have been a part of our social, cultural and political fabric for over a millennium. We all need to learn from Ms Ardern....