Hearing the tragic news about the 50 people murdered in Christchurch, I decided to look into the callous killer who documented his murder rampage on Facebook live. I was Livid, after seeing a video that looked like a first-person shooter game, except the targets were just like you and me, Muslim women, men and children. Normal people living peaceful lives, praying together, people who have probably never hurt a single hair on another person’s head.
I saw that the murderer Brendon Tarrant was an Australian who “was just an ordinary white guy”. He said “my parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock” and he took “a stand to ensure a future for his people”. How did this man get the idea that Australia belonged to him, that his ‘People’ needed a future secured against a “large group of ‘invaders’ who seek to occupy my people’s lands and ethnically replace my own people”. Then to go to another country and commit such heinous crimes. This man grew up in Australia, where his ancestors emigrated to, where they invaded and occupied the land of the aboriginal people and ethnically replaced them. How did this man grow up not knowing he was the very thing he hated: an immigrant.
As a second generation refugee, I am constantly reminded that I’m ‘not really from here’. I am asked on a daily basis “Where are you really from?” which leads me on to ask why is it that white people are taught to assume that they are natives to wherever they grew up, they are never taught the history of migration and colonisation. Every black history month we look at heritage and slavery, perhaps we also need to recognise in everyone learning about their own histories which often is entwined with others that we begin to understand ourselves, our privileges and our roots.
This made me see a huge flaw in the education system worldwide.
We don’t teach white people where they came from, their origins, history and timelines. We don’t tell them about the mass movements, the melting pots and we definitely don’t teach them about how they came to acquire the land they stake a claim on. We don’t teach them about the colonialism, slavery, exploitation and how the land they think is their’s, simply isn’t. Their are dark truths in history but it is important to explore them or the danger is erasure of histories. Now I’m not saying all Caucasians think this way, we know. this, but the ones that do have managed to grow up their entire lives never wondering how they came to be there and I think we need to ask why? The sense of entitlement manifests structurally and daily in their lives and eventually or immediately in the lives they touch.
Every year Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, which is essentially a holiday to mark their invasion of the native American land. When asked about the holiday, some native Americans described it as a slaughter. One called the world-renowned and revered Christopher Columbus the “first terrorist in America” and another likened it to “having a day to celebrate Hitler”.
How is it that millions of people celebrate such atrocities every single year and it’s simple, they along with many others don’t know about the history of it. How is it this never comes up in the 11 months of the year that we aren’t learning about black history.
Looking back to my GCSE history lessons, I remember learning about the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Tsars of Russia, the American civil rights movement and world war II. This here is the problem, the curriculum, why don’t we go further back, why have history lessons remained unchanged? And when we do it’s the regality of the Victorians, the bubonic plague, the Renaissance, is this it? We don’t learn about the convicts sent to colonise Australia, the conquistadors’ invasion of South America and the Caribbean and the French colonisation of Africa and the far-east. I remember being taught to look on the commonwealth fondly, as nations brought together, about the mighty British empire establish by beloved Queen Victoria. Who has film upon film about her. But we don’t get taught what the Commonwealth really means, what the empire meant, it meant people were enslaved, people were exploited, people were displaced and people lost their land.
So to all those people who feel like immigrants are taking over your land, taking your jobs, taking your money. Remember you’re probably an immigrant too. We have a lot more in common then we know.
I believe that Allah created this vast earth for us to explore, migrate and enjoy regardless of our skin colour. I am grateful for the way I was raised and for Islam that has taught me that no single race is superior to another and that life is precious, no matter who it belongs to.
May Allah give strength to the families of the Christchurch victims and may he have mercy and grant Jannah to the lives that have been so tragically ended.