Following the terrorist attacks on two New Zealand mosques on March 15, vigils and rallies against Islamophobia were organised across the world.
The following speech was given by community advocate Ahmed Aboushabana to a solidarity rally outside the New Zealand Consulate in Sydney on March 17.
There is an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and despair among Muslims right now.
While Muslims are being killed on a regular basis overseas, this one is different: This one is very close to home.
I read the horrible news as I was picking up my friend to go to Friday prayers, as we do each week.
While sitting in the mosque all I could think of was what the poor brothers and sisters in New Zealand went through.
What did they feel when this racist scumbag, white supremacist, terrorist of a man went through their mosques shooting everyone without differentiation between whether they were an adult or a child.
All I could think of was their warm bloodied bodies, just dead.
I pray for them and their families and I hope they are in the highest of the heavens.
While I was thinking about all this, I realised I was sitting at the entrance to the mosque. If such a coward entered, I would be one of the first in line.
And the sad reality is that this is not the first time that I have thought of something like this.
I’m not the only one who thinks about something like this when they go into their mosques or places of worship.
I’m not the only one who has been living in this hostile environment of Islamophobia and hatred for so many years.
It is really depressing to have to go through this every day.
But not once, when sitting in this mosque, did I think I should leave. Not once did I think that maybe I should go home or stay at home.
I will never allow any racists or cowards to stop me from doing my worship or taking my kids to the mosque.
My dear Muslim sisters and brothers stay strong.
I’ll start with the sisters first, because usually they are the ones who face the Islamophobic attacks.
Because of their visibility, they are the ones who get spat on, get their hijabs stripped off their heads. They have gun gestures pointed at their heads.
I wish they did not have to go through this.
My dear Muslim brothers, this one was targeted at us: this one was for those who go to Friday prayers, which is mostly men.
I know that next time we go to the mosque we will be fearful. We’ll be thinking of this. It is hard. All I wanted to do that day is to go home and stay with my kids.
But please stay strong, hold on to one another, don’t stop, don’t compromise. Stay true to who you are. We are in this together and we will get over it.
But we cannot keep doing the same things and hope for a different outcome. We need to build a new movement, by the community and for the community.
I’m angry, I’m really angry. And I don’t need any imam, or sheik or Muslim community leader or anyone to tell me I should not be angry.
We have the right to be angry. We need a safe space to talk about our feelings. Thank you for this safe space.
We have had enough of the imams, the sheiks and Muslim community leaders bringing politicians to our mosques.
We have had enough of sharing our platform with them. They are not welcome. They have blood on their hands.
They cannot spread hate and Isamophobia on the one hand, supporting racism and white supremacy, and then we welcome them and embrace them in the mosque.
That is not OK.
When are we going to learn that they do not care about us? They only care about their seats, their comfortable seats [in parliament].
They do not think twice about sacrificing any of us to keep these seats.
They say “We are all Muslims”?
We remember when they said they were going to fight Islam for the next 100 years. We remember their double standards; we will never forget it.
Finally, I want to thank my First Nations brothers and sisters for their usual support and solidarity. Thank you for always being there for us.
I’m sorry for not showing the same support when your people are killed in custody, when your lands are stolen and when your kids are taken away. We can do better and we will do better.
I also want to thank Will Connolly: thank you for egging that racist scumbag. You’ve done well. You are good brave man and thank you.