Rabat – On the two-year anniversary of the Christchurch terrorist attack in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the country “has a duty” to support its Muslim community.
Prime Minister Ardern has shown herself to be a compassionate and strong leader, garnering international attention for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as her response to the mass shooting that occurred at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
Hundreds of people attended the remembrance ceremony of the terrorist attack that saw 51 people killed and dozens injured by a white supremacist gunman who opened fire in two mosques on March 15, 2019.
“Much has been said, but words — despite their healing power — will never change what happened that day,” Ardern said on the occasion.
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“Men, women and children… were caught in an act of terror. Words will not erase the fear that has befallen the Muslim community,” she added, and New Zealand’s legacy should be “a more inclusive nation, one that stands proud of our diversity and embraces it and, if called to, defend it staunchly.”
Her comments come at a time of an evident rise of Islamophobia in the western world. Recently the UN expert Ahmed Shaheed warned the UN Human Rights Council that institutional islamophobia is reaching epidemic levels.
“Islamophobia builds imaginary constructs around Muslims that are used to justify state-sponsored discrimination, hostility, and violence against Muslims,” Shaheed stated, adding that these result in “stark consequences for the enjoyment of human rights including freedom of religion or belief.”
As if to confirm the notion, on March 9, the Swiss government announced that it is moving forward to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa or niqab (face coverings) in public spaces.
In shock, the Muslim communities in Switzerland condemned the campaign against the ban, describing Sunday as a “black day” for Muslims.