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A time to reflect

After the terrorist attack on two New Zealand mosque’s last Friday which resulted in the deaths of 50 people, there has been nothing but applause for how NZ Prime Minister (PM) Jacinda Ardern has reacted to the tragedy. At a time when the international Muslim community finds itself vilified by right-wing politicians across the globe as terrorist-sympathisers, PM Ardern chose to react to a violent attack on Muslims by a white supremacist by donning traditional Muslim garb and meeting with people who had been directly affected by the incident and grieving with them. This has not come off as political point scoring. Her actions genuinely seem to be focused on caring for Kiwis of every ethnicity and religious affiliation.
This is in stark contrast to US President Donald Trump — the apparent leader of the “free world” — whatever that means in this day and age. Rather than taking the Christchurch attack as an opportunity to distance himself from hateful politics, President Trump chose to brush the threat white supremacy and neo-nazism poses to the world under the rug and refused to condemn it. Nor did he make any statement expressing sympathy with New Zealand’s Muslim community.
This sharp contrast won Ardern the hearts and minds of Muslims across the globe, even Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi. Taking to Twitter, President Alvi thanked PM Ardern for the strong compassion she showed after the Christchurch attack. He also thanked NZ citizens for their rejection of hate and Islamophobia.
However, perhaps we Pakistanis should take this as an opportunity for self-reflection. We praised PM Ardern for putting on a headscarf and grieving with Muslims, but how would this country’s electorate react if one of our own politicians donned the traditional garb of one of our religious minorities and expressed sympathy with them for the violence and bias they routinely face in Pakistan? Let’s not forget how the appointment of Atif Mian, a brilliant Ahmadi economist, to the Prime Minister’s economic advisory council was politicised or how bigots took to the streets and practically put the country in lockdown after Asia Bibi was acquitted of blasphemy after ten long years.



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