“To those who, when calamity strikes, Say: ‘We belong to God, and to Him we shall return.’ Upon them descend blessings from God and mercy. They are guided right.” Quran, 2:157. Our thought and prayers are with families of the New Zealand mosque massacres.
A suspected white nationalist terrorist killed 49 Muslim worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the gunman “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.”
The suspect’s manifesto and social media posts confirm his right-wing white supremacist political beliefs. “[I]ncite violence, retaliation, and further divide,” the suspect explained the objective of his killing spree. Not surprisingly, the suspect may have been inspired by American hate and anti-immigrant ideologues, as the suspect called President Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose” and praised Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.
These horrific massacres will not be the last against Muslims. The rise of ‘nationalism’ and ‘populism’ around the world is code for white supremacy and anti-immigrant xenophobia. Trump & Co. have built their political ideology on appealing to hate and fear. This anti-immigrant hate and fear has caught on fire all over Europe. Just follow the rise of populist nationalists in Germany, Poland, Hungry, Holland, France and England.
In 2010, Trump suggested that the United States is at war with Muslims. Since then, he has talked about the “Muslim Problem,” supported the surveillance of Muslims, defended warrantless searches of Muslims, complained about Syrian Muslims entering the United States and said he would, “look at” closing mosques. He also supported creating a database to track Muslims, spoke of Muslims as a “Trojan Horse,” said that New Jersey Muslims cheered on 9/11, planned a “Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and uttered or tweeted the following: “We are at war with radical Islam,” Muslims are “sick people,” “Islam hates us,” “Muslims don’t respect us,” and “…let the Muslims flow in. No way!”
It is easy to dehumanize Muslims when a large portion of Americans hold such negative views combined with the anti-Muslim rhetoric from Trump & Co. that is carried live by right-wing media outlets. Let us not be surprised that another white terrorist inspired by this Islamaphobia and hate rhetoric will massacre Muslims at a mosque near you.
Abed Awad, a New Jersey/New York attorney, a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers and an adjunct law professor at Rutgers Law School, Newark. He has also taught at Pace Law School and Seton Hall Law School.