Today, we mourn. Tomorrow, we organise.

We are in shock and mourning, so I’ll keep this brief as I can.

On Friday we learned, in the most horrific way, that we live in a country where a man can walk down the street in broad daylight fully armed and livestream his massacre of Muslims at our place of worship.

We also learned that this bloodbath had been in the planning for years, and that it was committed by a white European on behalf of white Europeans, on what he believed to be unquestionably white European lands.

This was an act of terror and white supremacy, inspired by white supremacists, Islamophobes, and xenophobes everywhere, and undertaken in defence of past and present colonisation of Indigenous lands.

We know all this because it was conveyed, loud and clear and without equivocation, by the perpetrator himself: his views were published online, expressed in a long-winded and vile manifesto, and even scribbled on the firearm he used to gun down men, women and children.

We also know this because of the act itself, and the inaction it met with in the lead-up. Planned and executed with complete impunity and without any hesitation, the massacre took place because the perpetrator, like so many others before him, felt a confidence that in our societies is afforded only to white men.

He felt this confidence, and was vindicated for it. As media, politicians, and everyday discourse focused on the threat of radicalisation supposedly harbored by Muslim communities – a suggestion that would now surely be farcical if its consequences weren’t so tragic – as the SIS and the GCSB were busy scouring the facebook accounts of Māori activists and Muslim youth, this man blithely and unashamedly made his violent intentions plain and clear, and visible for all to see.

I’ll never forget the many meetings and roundtables I attended, alongside other Muslim advocates and leaders, where we argued and pleaded, pointlessly it seems, with different government agencies to turn their attention from our communities and mosques to the real threats in this country. I’ll never forget the empty reassurances, let alone the smirking faces as someone dismissively joked, in reference to the far right and white supremacists in New Zealand: ‘it’s hard to take these guys seriously.’

I’ll also never forget my hosts at Al Noor Mosque when I visited them two years ago, probably not long before the killer began planning his attack. At the time, we were visiting every major city to consult with Muslim leaders and communities about their experiences of racial profiling. I won’t forget how, like all Muslims in this country, and despite all the harassment and intimidation suffered at the hands of the SIS, Customs, and Immigration, they clung to this notion that we belonged here, that we were safe here, that this is our home.

I can understand and respect the sentiment, but I’ve never been one to share or believe in it. What I do believe in is justice and accountability. The responsibility for our ‘darkest day’ in recent memory lies with the same racist, colonial structures of power that have produced dark day after dark day in this country’s history. It lies with the politicians and pundits who pander and exploit racism to score points and increase ratings. It lies with the institutions and agencies who were too busy looking at Te Urewera, Greenpeace and the Al Noor Mosque to bother with the gun-toting white men intent on shooting up the place.

Today we need to grieve and mourn, so let’s do whatever we can to support each other and, most importantly, the immediate victims of yesterday’s atrocity. But tomorrow, we need to ask some hard questions and hold people to account for the sheer horror they enabled.


Image: Al Noor Mosque / Wikipedia

Faisal Al-Asaad

Faisal Al-Asaad is an Iraq-born writer, researcher, and educator based in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa. He is primarily interested in critical theories of race, settler colonialism, and racial capitalism.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. Dear brother and sister.
    I am very sad and my heart is broken for my brother and sisters who returned to Allah but in this inhumane way where the person is actually videoing himself while doing his crime.
    If I went to the church and just killed one person,I’ll be on TV for two generations and will be called several names racist and would be put in prison for the rest of my life.
    My dear brother and sister in Islam,I am not sad for those who was killed because I have been making many doaa to die as s shared but I am sad for being in a war where the two sides are not equal but I am very positive that Allah will be with us but when we be patient and never give up.

  2. Kia ora Faisal,
    Thanks for your leadership and analysis as always. We will work for those responsible for the mass murder of Muslims here in Aotearoa and all the Muslim lands the NZDF has been occupying are held to account.
    Ngā mihi,
    Auckland Peace Action

  3. Faisal,

    My heart goes out to you and all the families impacted by this hate-motivated insanity. As a white male kiwi, I would like to say that I am deeply ashamed that this could have happened. I am heartened that kiwis of all colour and belief are rallying around the Muslim community to show their love and support. It is sad that it has taken something as horrific as this for this to happen. I fervently hope that in the end, love, understanding and compassion will outshine hatred, bigotry and ignorance.

  4. Ngā mihi Faisal Al-Asaad,
    Thank you for writing and the voracity, power and honesty of your analysis. I am an organiser in Aotearoa/New Zealand although getting old now, I still support resistance actions towards the ongoing colonisation of Aotearoa and the abject racism that permeates all levels of NZ society. Mauri ora Dr Keri Lawson-Te Aho

  5. Our people of the Waikato district of Aotearoa feel and grieve with you in the many days and nights of pain, sorrow, and mourning, cast upon you by the abject evil and vile intent of this foul deed wrought upon your people.
    You suffer in today’s era as our people suffered by the same cowardly deed inflicted on the peoples of the Rangiaowhia village here in Aotearoa-NZ some 155 years ago by white colonial supremists intent on wiping out our nation from this, their own lands.
    In this, tho we sit some 500 miles to the north, we feel, share, and grieve and mourn for your heart wrenching pain and sorrow in spiritual unity alongside you. In the esteem words of our wise ancestral priestly elders, “Haere ra koutou, , takoto i roto i te tu-ateatanga o te tau tapu o nehera”, kaati. (Depart forever, treasures of my worldly essence, to the world of rest and final peace, to dwell forever within the realm of the esteemed spiritual dimension of your gods). Live in peace as yours shall lay, in our beautiful Aotearoa (New Zealand).. Te Piki.

  6. Remember Rangiaowhia!!! (Thankyou Piki for the name I had forgotten) …and for anyone in doubt about White Supremacy, read “The Great War for New Zealand” by Vincent O’Malley.

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