The world has been left in a state of shock and grief since yesterday when a mosque in Christ Church, New Zealand was subject to a violent terrorist attack. Just as Muslims in Christ Church were assembling together for Jumma prayers, an alleged Australian gunman walked in the Al-Noor mosque and opened fire on to helpless men, women and children. The death toll so far has been estimated at 49, making it the deadliest act of violence in New Zealand, a country with one of the lowest murder rates.

What makes the attack uniquely grotesque is that it was not an ordinary action of a mentally ill individual. Before carrying out the terrorism, the alleged gunman released a manifesto which promoted the “Great Replacement” theory; a far-right conspiracy theory which states that white people are being systematically replaced by Non-European people and that Western civilisation is in danger. Reading by the manifesto and the fact that the attacker live-streamed the whole massacre, it is clear that the gunman was influenced by the ideology of white supremacy and driven by Islamophobia and racism.

It is thus upsetting that the fact that the attacker was driven by a right-wing ideology, which has become prevalent in political rhetoric, has not been condemned by any official statements addressing the attack. The response of the New Zealand and the Australian government was appropriate and progressive in that it declared the attack as an incident of terrorism- a commendable move since most actions by white terrorists are simply dismissed as “lone-wolf” incidents. The reactions of other countries, however, have not been impressive. US President Donald Trump waited to condemn the incident and in his condemnation did not call it terrorism or mention white supremacy; neither did PM Modi who, as a leader of a country with a significant Muslim population, did not mention the incident at all. The response from a far-right Australian senator, Fraser Anning, blaming immigration for the attack, encapsulates just how alt-right and racist rhetoric which has become mainstream in western politics has permeated into extremist ideologies and allowed for radicalism to fester.

This was an extremely senseless and heart-wrenching tragedy and we stand in solidarity with the victims and their families. For the sake of the victims and for Muslim populations everywhere, leaders must denounce the rise of this dangerous Xenophobic and Islamophobic thought that has increased in the past two years.