On March 15th, a gunman walked into a mosque during the Friday prayers session and killed 50 worshippers in an act of cold blood. A lot changed that day and more is expected to change. In the following, I list seven ways in which things may change in the next few days, months, and years.
- Tightened Security Around all Houses of Worship: The shooting came as a shock to all worldwide Muslims, especially for those living in the West. For many, attending Friday prayers is part of their weekly routine. It is an obligatory prayer for all Muslim men (optional for women) and must be prayed in the mosque. On Fridays, Muslims head to the mosque for the Friday afternoon prayers which, depending on the time of the year, could be any time between noon and 2.00 PM. Most walk through the gates of the mosque, enter the main prayer hall and face the qibla (direction of Kaaba in the city of Makkah) to pray. This usually means facing the wall next to which the Imam also stands to deliver the Friday Khutbah (sermon), and who subsequently leads the prayers. The entire process takes no more than an hour. Before this shooting, no one gave any thought about anyone attacking the congregation from the back. But from now on, everyone will have this on their minds. Churches and other religious houses, which have a similar set up can be expected to take measures to prevent any repetition of such a scenario on their premises.
- Controlling the spread of violent content on social media: The shooting was transmitted live on Facebook, which was recorded by thousands and then uploaded to other social media platforms, including YouTube. The number of views on those platforms has been reported in the tens of millions. Considering that the video was also being forwarded on WhatsApp and other messenger services, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the killing had been viewed by hundreds of millions of people. Concerned with how such violent content spread so quickly, most social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft and others have started to discuss how to prevent this from happening again. This will also fuel debates on social media user empowerment and ethics; accordingly, it will influence social media policies and new laws.
- Change in the gun laws discourse: Since the shooting, the New Zealand government (with support from its public) moved swiftly to change its gun laws. Such a kind of response in the US would be unfathomable. We know that the best that comes out of such incidents in the US are merely ‘thoughts and prayers’ from politicians and the public that supports them. Giving guns up in the US simply doesn’t seem to be an option.
So this event will not change any aspect of US gun laws, but as NZ has shown people new possibilities, such a response will definitely alter the nature of discourse. Social media is already flooded with messages discussing this response from the people of New Zealand, and moving forward it will be cited as a talking point in the US gun law debates. Again, not that much will change, but the nature of discourse will.
- The leadership of Jacinda Ardern: As it often happens in such situations, the world views affected leaders in a special light. In this specific case, the world has fallen in love with New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. Her extraordinary leadership, empathy, her special human touch, and the way she pulled her nation together in such tough times has impressed everyone, including world leaders—Muslims in particular—her nation, and many others. She has become an example for others to follow and deserves special thanks and gratitude. Her leadership in such hard times will be remembered as well as mentioned for many years to come.
- Learning About Islam: Within a couple of days after the shooting, more videos have surfaced that show how thousands of non-Muslims worldwide have been rushing to mosques, not only in support but also to learn more about Islam. Many of those videos show people who either knew little about Islam or had developed the wrong perceptions over the past few years, starting to finally break through their barriers and learn about Islam. Many mosques in the West have been reporting droves of visitors frequenting them, and asking to learn more about Islam. We can expect more of this in the days to come.
- Addressing Racial Hatred at a Worldwide Level: Although this incident appears to be the act of a lone gunman who harbored a lot of hate for Muslims and immigrants, the world knows of others who lurk in the shadows holding similar views as the gunman. However, instead of finding support for their cause, these groups find themselves drowned out by the world at large rejecting their views and philosophies. Debates have been intensifying on how to counter such hatred. NZ’s Prime Minister has already challenged world leaders to start addressing racial hatred within their communities, especially when it can lead to inciting violence. Other world leaders have expressed support for her cause, and we may very well see a global concerted effort to address this issue.
- Life of Victims’ Families: Needless to say, the shooting will change (and has already changed) the lives of all those individuals and families who lost their loved ones in this tragic event. They deserve all the support they can get. It’s never easy to lose a child, parent, spouse, or other relatives and friends. We pray that they get the patience and all needed support to get through this ordeal.
This event has shaken up the entire world in so many ways. We hope that it can bring positive changes at all levels. (IqraSense.com)