It is said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If the tragedies are forgotten, then they will recure.
Let’s look at some recent examples of massacres of worshippers in the mosques.
- On 20 January 2017, six people were killed by a gunman at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City in Canada.
- On 11 October 2017, 25 worshippers killed at a mosque in Kembe, Central African Republic.
- In May 2001, 20 people were slaughtered at the Han Tha mosque in Taungoo, Myanmar.
- Baruch Goldstein, a member of the Israeli army reserves, entered the site sacred to both Judaism and Islam and killed 29 Muslims on 25 February 1994. His grave has become a pilgrimage for his supporters over the years and a shrine to his memory was set up next to his tomb.
- On 3 August 3 1990, there were 147 victims of the Kattankudy mosque massacre in Sri Lanka.
- On 24 September 1974, the biggest mosque-related mass murder occurred in the Philippines when some 1,500 members of the Moro people were killed by the Philippine army in the village of Malisbong.
- ISIS frequently attacked both Shia and Sunni mosques during the last couple of years and killed hundreds.
Contrary to Senator William Fraser Anning claims, none of those who were killed in the mosques were combatants with weapons but went to mosques for prayer to gain inner peace. However, they were attacked with bullets and bombs.
Muslims forget or do not want to remember it again such massacres, but then the cost becomes higher. During the last 30 years, over five million Muslims have been killed and almost 20 million have been displaced.
Do Muslims hold any program or ceremony to remember such tragedy? There is even no sign at the doors of attacked mosques where massacres took place.
It is time the Boards of Mosques’ management and Muslim Schools in Australia apply for security grants from federal and state governments.
It is known that the Federal Government allocates millions of dollars to protect Jewish synagogues and schools annually which is important for the safety of the Jewish community.
In my view, the Federal Government has a moral responsibility to provide security grants for the safety of Muslim citizens in this country as well.
Also, Muslims have moral obligations to reach out to those who have hatred towards Islam and Muslims through dialogue. They must have short and long term plan to overcome hatred.
However, this can not be done through interfaith dialogue only. It needs to be carried out through the mainstream media, faith organisations, other NGOs and with the help of the policymakers and law enforcement authorities.
The statement of Senator Anning after the Christchurch tragedy shows the degree of ignorance about Islam and Muslims in Australia.
The terrorist attack in Christchurch shook us to the core. Clearly, there is still much needed to be done to diminish hatred.
I pray that God gives Muslims and non-Muslims the strength to continue their works in this area for peace and security of all Australians.