Muslim community at FAU reflects on Christchurch shootings

With 49 dead, the mass shooting was the first terrorist attack in New Zealand’s history.



The Al Noor Mosque. Photo courtesy of Reuters

Israel Fontoura, Student Government Editor

On Friday, 49 people were killed in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand by an Australian white nationalist while live-streaming 17 minutes of the massacre on Facebook.


The gunman first arrived at Al Noor Mosque killing 41 people and then seven at Linwood Mosque, with one victim who died at Christchurch Hospital. Forty-eight victims, including young children, are currently being treated for their gunshot injuries.


News of this massacre hit home for some students and faculty at FAU.


Zayna Gichi, president of the Muslim Student Association said, “Our members are saddened and heartbroken in light of the horrific attack that unfolded earlier today in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. This heinous act of terror has deeply affected not only the innocent victims and their grieving family members, but the global community of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”


Muslims around the world are calling for individuals of every background to come together to denounce Islamophobia in all its forms.


“From among our teachings, our beloved Prophet Muhammad … taught us that Muslims are like one body: when one part aches, the whole body aches. We are all mourning the loss of our brothers and sisters in Christchurch, as we mourned the loss of innocent lives in Pittsburgh, Charleston, and elsewhere around the world,” Gichi said said.


Kelly Shannon, a Modern Islamic World professor, thinks white supremacy is to blame for Friday’s events.


“The shooting today is just heartbreaking. To see American-style mass shootings end up in New Zealand and in other parts of the world, and to see the resurgency of white supremacy is really scary,” she said.


From Charleston, South Carolina to Christchurch, New Zealand, religious congregations are now becoming sites where people have become targets.


“It’s really disturbing, where houses of worship used to be places of sanctuary. Historically, that was a place of peace, people went and you could seek sanctuary if you were being pursued by government forces, you could go to a church or mosque and be protected there,” Shannon added.


In 2016, New Zealand police reported only nine homicides by firearms, whereas in the same year, the United States reported over 11,000 gun-related homicides, according to the Associated Press.


Police say three people have been detained in connection to the attacks. This is the first ever terrorist attack and mass shooting in New Zealand’s history.


Gichi said, “We cannot, as a community, allow such tragedies to cause us to lose hope or feel intimidated, but rather come together in unity to celebrate our differences.”


Cameren Boatner contributed to this story.


Israel Fontoura is a student government editor with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected]