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Unexpected Horror


The killing of 49 persons in the Christchurch mosque attacks by ‘white supremacist’ terrorists has, once again, brought to the fore the dangers that lie in overlooking the fault lines caused by religious beliefs. This is done because of a sense of political correctness and the desire not to ‘offend’. As a result, the unaddressed issues remain boiling under the surface and erupt even in countries like New Zealand, which pride themselves on being welcoming to all races and religions. As the Kiwi Prime Minister has pointed out, none of the perpetrators were on any watch list and came, virtually, out of nowhere. How can a society and a system, therefore, prevent such a horror from occurring? Thus far, the New Zealanders would have been happy to assume that they are safe from the hatred and violence that besets most of the world. There is some resentment against outsiders, such as the Chinese, for having bought up property and caused the cost of living to go up, but the general consensus is that this is for the government to handle through reshaping of policies. Everybody also agrees that the Chinese investments have rejuvenated the economy. It would never have occurred to them that Muslims could be targeted in this way. Many such mass shootings are carried out by people with psychological problems. It is often found that those close to the attackers have overlooked red flags that could have revealed their intent. That the shootings in Christchurch were ideologically motivated is rare but indicative of a dangerous emergence of racially motivated ‘jihadism’. The attacks were carefully planned and, had the IEDs rigged in the cars been triggered, could have caused greater fatalities. The prime mover is believed to be from Australia. It is possible that the roots of the attack are in that country, where there have been groups demanding an end to Muslim immigration and the expulsion of radical imams. An unfortunate fallout of this will be possible retaliation against persons from Down Under in other parts of the world. It will be a long time before they will be able to travel abroad without looking nervously over their shoulders. This will add another complication to an already very complex global situation. It may help to ban organisations that preach hatred, but the real solution will come from addressing the basic issues that agitate people’s minds when it comes to inter-religious and racial relations, instead of glossing over them for the sake of not seeming rude.