The world continues to reel from the terror attack targeting New Zealand Muslims last week that left 50 people dead, but the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has firmly established herself on the side of the victims and those mourning. In response this week, the United Arab Emirates’ government projected a photo of Ardern embracing a mourner onto the side of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum shared:
‘New Zealand fell silent today in honour of the mosque attack’s martyrs. Thank you PM Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world.’
New Zealand today fell silent in honour of the mosque attacks’ martyrs. Thank you PM @jacindaardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world. pic.twitter.com/9LDvH0ybhD
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) March 22, 2019
As the UAE leader indicated, New Zealand broadcast a Muslim call to prayer across national television at 1:30 p.m. local time, which was followed by a two-minute long national moment of silence in honor of those who perished last week.
Members of the Muslim community gathered in a park near the mosque that was hit hardest in the attack, where dozens died. They held a prayer service in that park while their place of worship remained in police hands, to be handed back over on Saturday. Ardern addressed the crowd — which included many non-Muslims gathered around the perimeter in solidarity — asserting that New Zealand stands with those who’ve been affected by the attack.
Beginning with a quote from the Islamic religious figure Muhammad, Ardern shared:
‘The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion, and empathy are just like one body. When any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels pain… New Zealand mourns with you; we are one.’
Ardern has taken the need for solidarity to heart to the point of pushing for the United States to stand with the global Muslim community when pressed by President Donald Trump for what the country could do. Ardern told reporters she told Trump that her country needed “sympathy and love for all Muslim communities,” although he’s hardly delivered. Besides having long established his platform on a distrust of minorities, he’s launched right back into his familiar, baseless rhetoric about an “invasion” of “killers” via undocumented immigration. The New Zealand killer used the same anti-foreigner rhetoric in his manifesto.
Ardern’s contrasting support for those dealing with the aftermath of the New Zealand terror attack doesn’t end with shows of public solidarity. Her government has also taken tangible steps to seek to thwart potential future similar incidents, moving to ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines within days of the initial attack.
Australia established a similar precedent after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in which 35 people were killed. In the wake of a similar ban to what Ardern’s government has put forward, authorities launched a massive gun buyback program for weapons already on the market — and “mass shootings in Australia dropped to zero, gun suicides declined by an average of 4.8% per year, and gun-related homicides declined by an average of 5.5% per year,” CNN shares.
Meanwhile in the U.S., the National Rifle Association and its financial beneficiaries in Congress continue to complain whenever concerned interests suggest gun policy reform in the aftermath of a mass shooting incident. Down in New Zealand, Opposition leader Simon Bridges asserted his party supports “changes to our regime and… will work constructively with the government.”
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot