With three weeks now elapsed since the tragic incident of Christchurch, one can look at it a little more objectively. The way New Zealand’s people, administration, and government responded to the tragedy, embodied the best in humanity – in values, principles, and empathy. (A stark contrast, for instance, to Pakistan’s reaction -or lack of it- to the massacre of about a hundred Ahmedis in two mosques in Lahore, numerous attacks on Sufi Sunni Shrines and attacks on Shia Processions.)
However, the most striking occurrence in the aftermath of this tragedy was the general reaction in the West. It was widely mourned and condemned almost all across the West and was universally termed as terrorism by the mainstream media. Anyone who dared to say something against Muslims was roundly rebuked.
This bears out that the so-called “clash of civilizations” is in reality a “clash of extremisms.” The view of another bipolar world that was shaped in the West by 9/11’s incident now seems to be receding. The chorus branding the war on terrorism as the war on Islam is now perceptibly ebbing. The far right also feels that it is better off “trumping” up racist rather than religious hatred – thus, back to its old narratives. The Muslim world is also becoming weary of extremism that portrays the West as an enemy of Islam.
The reaction to Christchurch has shown that the West, collectively, is not willing to forsake its ideals of diversity and inclusivity. This is a world that is stepping out of the shadow of 9/11.
It also offers an opportunity to the Muslims to redefine their relationship with the West in a new light. The first thing to understand is that just as the world of Islam is not a monolithic entity, the West is even less monolithic both culturally and religiously. The world where the USSR and its allies represented the “East” and the US, Europe, and Oceania embodied the “West” no longer exists. It is a mistake to view the West as a single entity today. By embracing extremism, the Muslims walk right into the trap laid for them by the minority of white supremacists whose motives are economic and ethnic and not religious.