It is heartbreaking to say that today at least 49 people were murdered in an act of hate at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand today.
Today social media is filled with sadness and shock. New Zealand has not known terrorism and shootings/mass killings are very rare historical events. It is a country where people are made to believe that they are safe.
As a New Zealand Citizen, it is a sober reminder that prejudice and hate are prevalent even in small countries like New Zealand. We are not immune to Islamophobia despite having a very small Muslim population and no ISIS threats. The truth is New Zealand has always had a problem with racism. It has always had intolerance towards migrants and has always had a white supremacist presence. Our intolerance has been present in our TV commentators who made throwaway comments about migrants and their status as New Zealanders; in political commentary that aims to create controversy around refugees; the individual comments on news stories that featured minorities; in everyday conversations. We shouldn’t be so shocked. We should never have assumed that radical violence would never happen.
Today people all over my country are sharing messages of love and concern to people in New Zealand of Muslim faith to let them know that that we support them. But we all need to reflect on how we may have contribute to a society that propagates hate.
Hate occurs, when groups feel marginalised and disenfranchised. It occurs when we separate different sectors of society. Hateful behaviour develops when we turn a blind eye to small expressions of prejudice. Hate spreads when leaders indicate that other groups should be feared and are the reason for our suffering as we have seen with Brexit, the campaign to build a wall between the USA and Mexico and banning people travelling from Muslim countries.
We have a call to be part of the solution, not the problem;
- To call out media that is not a true representation of our multi-cultural society.
- Not ignore derogatory and prejudicial comments in our day to day lives just to be polite. There are respectful ways to let people know their behaviour is not welcome.
- To be brave and support people when we see discrimination.
Our failure to challenge prejudice in our everyday lives is part of the problem. We are responsible.
Nadia is a New Zealander of mixed race decent who has been living and working in the health and social sector in Scotland for the last three years. Much of her work has specialized on supporting youth and she has previous experience with working on issues relating to prejudice and discrimination.
Action on Prejudice
The programme provides information the inspires action on prejudice and hate crime across protected characteristics. This includes resources for practitioners, advice for young people facing prejudice and also the opinions and stories of those who live one Scotland.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not represent the views or opinions of Action on Prejudice or YouthLink Scotland.