Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (Arabic: إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ) “We belong to God and to Him we shall return”- those were the words that rang through my head on repeat after the tragic events that took place on Friday, March 15, 2019.
As a young Muslim woman born and raised in Auckland, the unexplainable massacre of 50 innocent lives within MY community, within MY home country, shook me to my absolute core.
How could this happen? Who was responsible? What could have been done to prevent this? And WHY?
It was a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from.
Growing up as a member of the Muslim community, you experience a strong sense of unity from day dot.
Your fellow Muslims, despite their background and ethnicity, are your brothers and sisters in Islam and you are raised to treat them with the same respect and love you would your own immediate family.
This is the foundation of our belief system and defines how we conduct ourselves inside our homes as well as in the outside world.
This is why the incomprehensible shooting that occurred in Christchurch, had ripple effects worldwide.
This did not affect just 50 people and their families; it affected all 1.5 billion of us. It was an attack on all of us.
In the immediate aftermath, the showcase of love and support that was displayed throughout New Zealand rang true to “Kiwi culture”.
From beautiful arrays of flowers and heartfelt messages to the way our leaders took charge and held the wrongful accountable.
From the bravery and hard work of our emergency support staff to the acts of kindness extended by locals all over the country, this horrific event suddenly started to form a silver lining.
As a result of the support that the Muslim community received, I started to question my moral conscience including reflecting on the line of work I am in.
As a young lawyer, I learned early on that every person charged with a crime has a right to a fair trial.
Consequently, you continue to reiterate the law unaware of the actual implications it may have on the victims and their families; whilst remaining impartial it is easy to become oblivious.
This tragedy simply struck too close to home. I struggled to sleep in the days following, grappling with the fact that it could’ve been any one of us.
It could have been my dad who attended Friday prayers that day, just at a different mosque.
It could have been my mother who wears the hijab daily and would have been an easy target.
It could have been my innocent nieces and nephew who would never have stood a chance.
This thought has haunted me in the days following and has prompted me to ask for change.
There needs to be a review of our laws, there need to be harsher penalties on those who are guilty of such heinous acts and supporters of such ideologies, a ban of violent and destructive material on social media and games, and accountability of MPs who spout hateful rhetoric to the public on a global scale.
We are the “now” generation. In a few years, we will be the law makers, the law abiders and the law enforcers of this country.
If we do not fight for a system that wholly represents us, and encompasses our values, then who are we?
* Nilufer Naeem is a 24-year-old Auckland-based solicitor
Originally published on www.nzherald.co.nz