We the members of G25 join all Malaysians and the world in expressing our shock and sorrow at the hate killing in Christchurch mosques in New Zealand on Friday last week, a day when Muslims gather for prayers. The killer targeted the Friday congregation and recorded his attack on live stream as he wanted the whole world to witness his hatred for the Muslim community. His cold-blooded murder and the large number of lives lost and injured, including Malaysians, make it the darkest hour in the history of New Zealand. For the Muslims who died on the holy day of the week, we offer them our prayers with the recital of Al Fatihah. For those who are being treated in Christchurch hospitals, we wish them speedy recovery.
Although the Australian killer acted alone, it is believed that there are racial supremacists in his country, as well as in New Zealand itself, who believe that foreigners, especially Muslims, are alien to their values and way of life and therefore are not welcome to work and live in their society. The sudden influx of refugees from war torn Muslim countries into white countries in Europe and America has made the sentiments against the immigrants become more extreme in recent years.
New Zealanders have responded to the hate by the outpouring of grief and sympathy for the Christchurch victims, their families and friends. This indicates that the overwhelming majority of people in the country do not subscribe to the ideology of racial supremacy. In Europe and America too, most whites are tolerant of other races and religions and reject the extremism towards them. The Muslim population in America has been growing the fastest and they are doing well in education, employment, business, government and politics. American Muslim academics have shown a progressive attitude towards the interpretation of Islam in daily life. This applies to New Zealand and Australian Muslim intellectuals too.
However, there are also concerns among whites in the Christian heartlands that there are too many refugees coming in from Muslim countries. While the advanced countries can accept the humanitarian reasons for taking in the immigrants, they worry that among the Muslims, there are religious radicals who reject the western way of life and behave in an ungrateful manner to support the imams and mullahs calling for jihad against the infidels. The misfits and misguided among the Muslim communities are few in number but the social tensions that they create are giving the neo-Nazis the fear factor they can exploit for their racial ideology. Compounding the problem, some white politicians have taken to echoing the anti-Islamic sentiments. This does not help the efforts of the caring majority who are trying to create a welcoming atmosphere for bringing the divided communities together.
The Christchurch killing as well as the terror attacks in other countries have raised questions whether the social media and the technology companies should be held responsible for the global spread of hate messages, enabling it to travel so fast as to make it difficult for the police to stop it before it’s too late. It is encouraging to see that there are public pressures in several countries to make the media companies control the news flow as the graphic videos can be a dangerous influence on social rejects and religious fanatics who are looking for instant fame as a defender of the white civilisation and for the jihadists, a quick passage to Heaven by setting a new record on civilian casualties.
We in G25 hope that world leaders will make concerted efforts to control their news media to stop giving space to reckless politicians who want to impress their electoral base with threatening talk against immigrants and Muslims. We also call upon our leaders in Malaysia to introduce measures to criminalise hate speeches especially when they are used at political meetings and election rallies to deliberately insult other races and religions. Although the intention is sometimes to play to the gallery, it is nevertheless a dangerous game. There should be tough laws on hate speeches, with safeguards to protect our fundamental rights to freedom of expression.
For Malaysians of all races, many have fond memories of the time they studied, worked and lived in New Zealand. It is not only a beautiful country, it also has lovely people. For the older generation who have lived through the period of the communist armed insurgency which lasted for more than ten years after WWII, we remember the sacrifice made by the New Zealand soldiers who served with other Commonwealth troops to fight and die in the jungles of Malaya. The victory against the communists paved the way for our country to achieve independence from the British, within the Commonwealth of Nations.
Although Malaysia has progressed since independence to become a peaceful and fast developing country, we are also faced like other countries with the extremist ideologies of race and religion. We are hopeful that we can overcome our internal problems through a broad range of reforms to develop the society and the economy.
We are confident that New Zealand will come out of the tragedy with a renewed sense of determination to bring the Muslim communities together to work with the majority population in finding ways for strengthening race relations. Muslim community leaders should reciprocate the conciliatory approach shown by the New Zealanders and emulate the inspirational leadership of their Prime Minister in restoring confidence that the country will not succumb to terrorism and racism. Peace loving Muslims should not be afraid to
tell the extremists among their community, especially the recalcitrant mosque preachers to give up on their hate ideology or go back to where they came from.
With the inspiring leadership of the New Zealand Prime Minister to defend the human rights of all immigrants and minority races, the Muslims living there can look forward to a peaceful life for bringing up their families, with hope for the future. For us watching from afar, we have much admiration for the way New Zealand handles the situation both at the political level as well as at the level of the ordinary people. The decision to review the gun laws in New Zealand will strengthen the sense of security. The hand of friendship extended to the traumatised Muslims will help them regain confidence that they are welcome in their adopted country.
We G25 wish the Muslims in New Zealand all the best for the future.