New Zealand mosque shootings


Melida Castro

New Zealand and the Muslim community are grieving the murder of fifty innocent Muslim people who were killed at two Christchurch mosques.
During Friday prayer on Mar. 15, 2019, two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand were attacked by a 28 year old man who killed 50 and injured another 50 Muslim men, women and children.
Augustana College held a vigil for the campus community to come together in solidarity and grief. It was led by Pastor Richard Priggie, who is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Priggie said, “It’s not despite my Christian faith but because of my Christian faith that I feel that it’s important to reach out to the Muslim community that is grieving because my Christian faith teaches me to love thy neighbor and it’s not those who are identical to us that are neighbors. In fact, it’s generally those who are different from us so that is why it’s important to me as a Christian to reach out.”
Jill Humecke, an Augustana College junior, is currently doing an internship abroad in New Zealand, and had been in Christchurch the day before the attack. She expressed a state of shock and fear upon the news of the terrible attack.
“My initial reaction was complete shock that this had happened here in such a safe and inclusive country. My next reaction was to think about my Muslim relatives and friends back home, and I remember fearing for their safety and hoping that this wasn’t a coordinated or organized act of terror across the world,” Humecke said. “I think what made this attack even more personal for me was that 24 hours earlier I was going for a run down the same street where 50 innocent people were senselessly murdered, and thinking about that honestly made me feel sick. Islam is a religion of peace, and to think that this attack was targeted at a time and place that is designated for prayer is just horrible.”
Humecke calls for the campus community to be all inclusive and for all to take care of each other. “Please reach out to your Muslim classmates, friends, family, or even acquaintances,” Humecke said. “Make sure they know that they have someone to talk to if they need to. Reassure them that this type of hate and discrimination will not be tolerated anywhere, and that we are here for them at Augie if they need it.”
“The rampage by the gunman who murdered Muslims worshipping in the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand is unconscionable, yet a reminder and evidence of the increase in hate crimes toward minorities,” Dr. Monica Smith, Augustana’s first Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion said. “This act and other acts of hate that do not get national attention are intolerable. We at Augustana College embrace the religious diversity reflected on campus and across the globe and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.”
Junior Ibrahim Abaddi, a Muslim international student from Morocco majoring in political science and minoring in philosophy, was at loss of words when expressing how he felt towards the horrible news.
“To be as honest as possible… I was devastated, it was a terrible thing to wake up to,” Abaddi said. “These belligerents, these terrorists are trying to break down bridges, they are trying to create conflict and the worst thing you can do is fall for it.”
Abaddi wished to address his Muslim community with the following words: “One of the core dictates of Islam is that of peace and that of love, and love cannot reside on a heart filled with fear and hate. This cannot live inside a symbiosis. For you to be a true Muslim is for you to forgive, so don’t solid your heart with emotions of fear and hate.”
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) also held an event on Friday, Mar. 22 in Denkmann Hall as a space for students to pray for and remember the victims of the attack. A khutbah (a sermon/talk) was given on “Building Alliances of Goodness that Defeat the Audacity of Hatred.”
Featured Image: A group of Augustana College students and faculty gathered for a prayer vigil on the quad organized by Pastor Richard Priggie on Thursday, March 21, 2019. Photo by Mia Gerace.