The world reacted with shock, horror and grief after a gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday 15th March, killing 49 people and wounding dozens of others
An Australian man, 28, a self-described white supremacist, has been charged with murder. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said soon after the shooting.
A number of young people were counted among the victims, including 14-year-old Sayyad Milne, who dreamed of being a footballer when he grew up, 21-year-old Talha Rashid, who had just got a new job and was hoping to get married soon, and 33-year-old Atta Elayyan, the goalkeeper for New Zealand’s futsal (a form of five-a-side football) team.
The youngest victim is believed to be Mucad Ibrahim – just three years old – who was visiting the place of worship with his brother, Abdi, and their father. Mucad was described as energetic and playful. “[He] liked to smile and laugh a lot,” his brother Abdi told
Young Muslims, in particular, in New Zealand and around the world, have been grappling with the attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques – and what they mean for their community.
“My immediate emotional reaction was one of shock, of grief, of deep pain,” 29-year-old Sayed Alkadiri, a PhD student and chairman of a young person’s leadership group, tells BBC Three. “And I was afraid because it was Friday, when tens of thousands of Muslims go to their mosques for Friday prayers and there was a real risk of attacks inspired by what happened in Christchurch.”
And Sayed, who lives in London, wasn’t alone in being frightened.
“I’m truly broken by [the] events in New Zealand,” added Zamzam Ibrahim, from the National Union of Students, on Twitter. “This terrorist attack that happened thousands of miles away from me, has had me in floods of tears feeling more vulnerable than ever before.
“To hear that the final words of one of the victims who opened the door to the attacker was ‘welcome brother’ is heart-wrenching”
But Sayed, who attended a vigil outside Finsbury Park mosque on Friday, experienced the reality of Islamophobic violence on the streets of Britain well before the attack in New Zealand. “Many of my friends and family have faced Islamophobic violence, from having their hijabs pulled off, to being spat on in the street, to verbal abuse online,” he says.
Last year, police recorded a surge in hate crime directed at people in England and Wales because of their religious beliefs, with incidents rising by 40% – from almost 6,000 in 2016-17 to more than 8,000 in 2017-18, according to Home Office data.
More than half of religious hate crime – 52% – was aimed at Muslims.
Many young Muslims shared their grief at the attacks online, with some sharing thoughts and memories about their own places of worship under the hashtag #MyMosque.
“#MyMosque is where my heart is,” says Yusuf on Twitter. “It’s where I can go in times of hopelessness and feel at peace.”
For further information (inc photo credentials): https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/0a8c3947-1df7-4d9b-8b4b-c1067fcb9f87