Over the past several decades, terrorism has caused tremendous damage to this world; Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Atheists all have suffered appallingly. During such difficult times, the world leaders have responded to terror attacks differently. The leaders’ response to the horrendous savagery, i.e., extremism is solely at their own discretion; in the wake of terrorism some leaders act insensitively and ostensibly address the issue, whereas, others take it sympathetically and tackle the frustrating situation emphatically. In brief, the way heads of various countries address the terrorist attacks, really makes a difference; their reaction to this continual menace can either make this world hell or heaven.

So, what typically happens when the news of the terrorist attack(s) reaches the office of insensitive and unsympathetic leaders. They remain emotionally unaffected; they cannot figure out what is or is not an emergency. Very insensitively they appear before media and utter the same old superficial sentences; they never speak from their hearts. After staying in media highlights merely for some days, they switch back to their selfish political objectives. For face-saving they try faking solidarity, but the world can clearly see they’re doing it all so artificially. During such hard times, their shallowness oozes from their words and body language. They don’t take any preventive/productive measure and bold legal or social steps to cessate the recurrence of terrorism, and therefore the world doesn’t see any marked difference after the atrocities in such countries. To conclude, terrorism remains just an ordinary event for them that doesn’t require any meticulous attention. In fact, ‘It’s OK’ for them if terrorist attacks take place in their country and they don’t like bothering much over the deaths of their own countrymen or minorities in massacres.

That said; see what happens when the same news of the terrorist attack(s) reaches the office of sympathetic and empathetic leaders. They take this news way too seriously and empathetically. They immediately step into the shoes of bereaved families and innocent victims; they don’t just walk one or two steps into the shoes of the victims; rather they go out of the way and walk with them throughout the harrowing journey; they enter the skins of the affectees and thus touch their hearts. They don’t discriminate between their dear countrymen and vulnerable minorities; they demonstrate solidarity with everyone. They respect all nationalities; for them everyone is important and honourable. They resolutely take bold legal and social steps to prevent the recurrence of such unspeakable atrocities. Such type of courageous leaders are rare very rare; right now whole world can see there is just one leader on the face of this earth who has got all the above-mentioned qualities of genuine empathetic leader, and that is none other than the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern.

Never ever in world’s history, has any leader exhibited the extraordinary level of empathy towards minorities that Ardern has shown in the wake of terrorism in New Zealand. She deeply felt the need to address the Christchurch attacks as ‘national tragedy’ rather than just 'Muslims’ tragedy'. In a world where due to Islamophobia, many insensitive leaders don’t sympathise much with Muslim victims, Ardern has walked bravely on the untrodden, untried, and unknown path of leadership and shown compassion for bereaved Muslim communities. She has, in a very real sense, demonstrated through personal example how actually responsible leaders should indiscriminately treat victims (minorities) during hard times of terrorism. 

The whole world witnessed marvellous display of Ardern’s empathy over the past few weeks. From the first day of the Christchurch brutal bloodbath through the present, she has continuously empathised with the innocent sufferers in so many impressive ways; with every passing day she is unfolding more and more facets of empathy.

It is highly commendable the way immediately after the fierce attack, like a perturbed mother of the whole nation she appeared before media and shook the world with her genuine concern, compassion and love for victims: her pain for the unfortunate sufferers could be observed in her gloomy eyes and sombre voice when she roared at the alleged terrorist, “You may have chosen us, but we utterly reject and condemn you”. She did not stop there, rather, she kept on crossing the levels of empathy: she put on black hijab to express solidarity with the victims; hugged the victims’ families and sincerely mourned with them; used Islamic greeting (Assalaam alaikum) in the parliament; declared that national television and radio would broadcast Azaan as a mark of harmony with New Zealander Muslims; quoted the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in her speech during a commemoration ceremony for the victims of the terror attack; announced that country would hold two minutes of silence as a symbol of respect for the departed souls; encouraged the women in New Zealand to don headscarves to voice their support for the Muslims; and especially when she introduced changes to the country’s gun laws and banned all military-style semi-automatic guns and assault rifles.

Last but not the least, Ardern deliberately amplified the worth of the Muslim victims by completely devaluing and multiplying the monster by zero, she said:

“He sought many things from his act of terror, but one is notoriety. And that is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless. And to others, I implore you: Speak the names of the lives who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them.”

In sum, horrific Christchurch massacre was Arden’s leadership test. She has not only played her role very well, but has also set new trends of empathetic leadership. Now the responsibility is on the shoulders of world leaders, whether they keep Arden’s trend alive and bring empathetic leadership to the next level or remain stuck to persisting blame games, religious intolerance, bias, prejudice, bigotry, haughty indifference, hate, and marginalisation, and further drag the world on the verge of destruction. Let’s see how it goes!