Christchurch Mosque Attacks: A Public Syllabus

A PUBLIC SYLLABUS to help challenge Islamophobia, racism and white supremacy in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond.

This syllabus is curated by students in ANTH 406 and ANTH 312 at Victoria University of Wellington, with input from lecturers and students from across the School of Social and Cultural Studies.

This syllabus is an ongoing project, and will grow over time. It is worth reading now, and also coming back to see how it has developed in the coming weeks and months.

Read about how and why we created this syllabus here.

Content Warning: Please be aware that most sources listed here deal directly with racism, discrimination and violence.


Centring New Zealand Muslim Voices

Anjum Rahman: We warned you. We begged. We pleaded. And now we demand accountability: “For more than five years, Muslim representatives knocked on every door we could, we spoke at every possible forum. We pointed to the rise of vitriol and the rise of the alt-right in New Zealand”, writes Anjum Rahman of the Islamic Women’s Council of NZ”

Mo Muse: A twitter thread about the seven stages of racism that allowed the Christchurch terror attacks to happen in the context of New Zealand society

Jinghan Naan: “I hate to say that after all of that elaborate planning, and the perverse and wretched efforts on your part, you still failed to drive a divide among the Muslims and non-Muslims in the world. For that, I can’t say that I’m sorry.”

Faisal Halabi on what it means to be a Muslim in New Zealand. “I witnessed time and time again the Muslim community pushing through, always guided by the five pillars. But, as those stereotypes hyperinflated, somewhere along the way a small but very real distance between the identities of being a New Zealander and a Muslim formed.”

Chloë Swarbrick re-posts her friend Mukseet‘s reflections on the everyday racism encountered when growing up Muslim in New Zealand.

A short and very moving video about hope in the wake of terror, by anthropology doctoral candidate at Canterbury University, Wael.

Saziah Bashir: Four things you should do following the Christchurch terror attacks “Muslims have been dehumanised and demonised in the media the world over since 9/11. The failure to include Muslim voices in this narrative has left unchallenged the stereotypes painted of us, as if we are a two-dimensional monolith, a single monstrous Other”

Mohamad Elmasry: “Shootings at Christchurch mosques are only the latest on a long list of acts of white supremacist terrorism in the West.”

Mehdi Hasan: Don’t Just Condemn the New Zealand Attacks — Politicians and Pundits Must Stop Their Anti-Muslim Rhetoric.“Violence does not exist in a vacuum”

Pakeeza Rasheed: I am a Muslim New Zealand Woman and I am as Angry as I am Sad. “As Muslims we have been told our anger is dangerous, our anger is unacceptable. Time and again we are told that we have no right to express our emotions.”

Guled Mire argues that Kiwis need to ‘stop living in denial’ and acknowledge racism exists in Aotearoa One of his earliest memories in New Zealand is of his local mosque burning down, the target of an arson attack.

Faisal Al-Asaad: Today, we mourn. Tomorrow, we organise. I’ll never forget the many meetings and roundtables I attended, alongside other Muslim advocates and leaders, where we argued and pleaded, pointlessly it seems, with different government agencies to turn their attention from our communities and mosques to the real threats in this country.

Lamia Imam: ‘I cannot forgive the rhetoric that got us here’ “we as a country failed to stop something horrific, because we like to believe we are better. We like to believe that for example Duncan Garner’s words that compared immigrants shopping at K-mart to a human snake are not racist.”

Lamia Imam: Vigils are useless without real change. On NZ politicians- “Are their policies designed to harm racial minorities? Is their rhetoric designed to pander to racists? Then they are racist. We do not have to establish it. It is evident.”

Haezreena Begum binti Abdul Hamid: A reflection on the Christchurch shooting massacre. “we address others in the Islamic faith as brothers and sisters because it gives us a sense of unity and a sense of belonging. We feel for each other and we look out for each other. That’s why we are deeply impacted with this tragedy”

Mohamed Hassan: Unlearning My Name “I spent 19 years mispronouncing my name so others will be able to say it. I wrote this poem about learning/unlearning that habit.”

RNZ video: Phillip Gondar lost one of his best mates, Talha, in the shooting. Speaking from the Al Noor mosque, he pays tribute to his friend, discusses everyday racism in school, and says he hopes the unity continues.

Al Noor Mosque Imam Gamal Fouda. Full speech, 22 March, 2019, Hagley Park: “Our loss is a gain to NZ’s unity and strength”

Hina Cheema: Christchurch shooting: ‘Just accept us as we are, ordinary‘. “We do not need sympathies, we do not need extra attention, and we do not want to be in limelight. We do not need platforms to speak, we just need acceptance, a place to be comfortable under our skin, a place where we have feeling of home, a feeling of co-existence not merely existence.”

Faisal Halabi: What it means to be a Muslim New Zealander in 2019. “Muslim communities in New Zealand have often sat in an awkward cleft between being welcomed and being absolutely misunderstood.”

Imam Dr Reza Abdul-Jabber: Invercargill Muslim leader: You will not succeed in instilling fear and division in our hearts. “As we grieve and mourn today the victims of such a cowardice attack whilst praying for the welfare, and speedy recovery of those who are still fighting for their lives, we also sympathise and extend our deepest condolences to the families that are left behind.”

One News: ‘Were our voices not enough?’ asks refugee who experienced racism in NZ prior to mosque attacks. “Were our voices not enough that whole time?”

Hala Nasr: Islamophobia: A Personal Reflection. “the culmination of my lived experiences, and many others which I can’t bring myself to repeat, rests under the surface of my discomfort with the ‘They Are Us’ solidarity statements”

Guled Mire, and Denise, who are active in the Canterbury Muslim community, spoke to John Campbell on TVNZ1’s Q+A about their experiences in New Zealand as Muslims.

Eva Nisa and Faried Saenong. From Mahometan to Kiwi Muslim: history of NZ’s Muslim population. “Muslims make up just over 1% of New Zealand’s population and one might assume most are new to this country. But historical accounts document that Islam first arrived in New Zealand in 1769, with two Indian Muslims.”

Hela Rahman: Three weeks after the Christchurch mosque attack: Forgiveness, faith and fear. “we need to acknowledge the complexity of Muslim identities and reactions as the community processes its grief.”

Centring and remembering the victims

Stuff: The people we lost. Tributes to each victim, often with a few short words from their family members.

Khaled A. Beydoun, a Muslim law professor whom lives in Detroit who studies the “mainstream media’s neglect of Muslim victimhood”. His Twitter thread is focusing on the victims of the shooting by giving detailed descriptions of their lives and who they were. See also his other article.

Shamim Homayun: An ordinary man with extraordinary values: Haji-Daoud, a victim of the Christchurch terror attacks. I first met Haji-Daoud Nabi when I was 16 years old. He was sitting cross-legged at the back of the Wellington mosque, wearing a pakol – a traditional Afghan hat with rolled-up edges. I recognised the hat and struck up a conversation with him. That was one of the distinctive conversations of my adolescence.

Educational Resources

Me and White Supremacy – TheWorkbook, by Layla F. Saad, a Muslim women writer in the US. This 28 day workbook is a great educational resource. See also her twitter account, @laylafsaad where she posts about dismantling white supremacy and her podcasts, the good ancestor, which also involve many themes around white supremacy.

Rethinking Schools. A U.S. teaching resource on how to support and stand in solidarity with migrant students in school, and ways to defend them from racism and Islamophobia.

Australian Muslim Voices on the Christchurch Mosque Attacks and on Islamophobia.

Waleed Aly: Journalist from The Project Australia on not being shocked, the complexities of silence and speaking out, how we can challenge politicians who tacitly stoke fear of Muslims.

Randa Abdel-Fattah: Pumpkin seeds, angry minorities and race. The moral contortions of multiculturalism. “When I think about Australia and white fragility, with all its moral pretensions, I marvel at the great hoax of it all. The sheer energy and wealth invested in concealing and denying racist policies, ideas, outcomes and realities”

Randa Abdel-Fattah: We told you the threat is white supremacy. You ignored us. “You were so busy telling us to keep quiet and conform, you overlooked the most deadly threat of them all”

Sara Mansour: After the Christchurch massacre, how do we deal with the trauma and outrage? “When someone makes an inappropriate joke, or when a senator makes incendiary remarks, speak up”

Rymer Tchier: Will Muslims Ever Be Allowed to Just Grieve? “Our grief is censored and self-contained as condolences are made on our behalf.”

A Statement From The Australian Muslim Community. “We owe it to the victims of this massacre to bear witness to the truth of why they died. Their deaths cannot be used to whitewash the reality of how this occurred.”

Sara Mansour: After the Christchurch massacre, how do we deal with the trauma and outrage? “When someone makes an inappropriate joke, or when a senator makes incendiary remarks, speak up”

Rashna Farrukh: As the Christchurch shootings unfolded, I knew I had to quit my job at Sky News, journalist Farrukh on the racist paranoia stoked by conservative commentators and callers on Sky News “after dark”, “a network whose tone I knew would help legitimise radical views present in the fringes of our society”.

Perspectives on socially embedded racism, white supremacy, and Islamophobia in New Zealand

This is Us. A short comic by Toby Morris explaining how this event was able to happen in New Zealand due to societal conventions. It shows how “Overt acts of horror are built on top of a lifetime of smaller everyday assumptions, structures and systems that reinforce an undercurrent of white superiority”

Carmen Parahi: Christchurch mosque attacks a chance to unite and stamp out racism, says Māori leader “Academic Leonie Pihama says everyone is mourning for the Muslim community and all those impacted by the shootings. “We will tangi. We will karakia. We will karanga. We will haka. We will waiata,” she says.”

The Non-plastic Māori Blog: What Does A Just, Safe Aotearoa Look Like? “How can this government possibly be equipped to deal with such deeply entrenched racism and Islamophobia?”

Award winning 4 part RNZ podcast: Public Enemy: Between the rise of ISIS and Donald Trump, what does it mean to grow up a Muslim in the midst of the War on Terror? Fifteen years on from 9/11, some feel Islamophobia is at an all-time high.

Mārami Stephens: Standing still in the whirlwind. “New Zealanders commit banal evil on a much smaller scale every single day. We know this to be true. Smaller evils don’t inoculate us against larger, grander ones.”

Deranged but Dangerous is a two-part article by Ben Peterson from 2015 looking into the threat of White Nationalist extremists in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Susan Devoy: Hatred lives in New Zealand. “The warning signs for yesterday’s atrocity were everywhere, if only we’d looked – or listened to New Zealand’s Muslim community”

Paul Spoonley: Christchurch mosque shootings must end New Zealand’s innocence about right-wing terrorism. “Extremist politics, including the extreme nationalist and white supremacist politics that appear to be at the core of this attack on Muslims, have been part of our community for a long time.

Georgia Gifford: facebook post. “This act of terrorism is a direct result of non-action towards dismantling colonial systems that allow racism, white supremacy, xenophobia and islamophobia to exist in our society which results in the constant emotional, mental, and physical harm of people of colour.”

Sara Meger, The Gender and War Project: A Gender Analysis of the Christchurch Terrorist Attack. “just as fascists in the 1930s held, such obsessions over fertility rates belie an underlying desire to control women’s bodies and most often go hand-in-hand with beliefs that feminism is ultimately to blame for the decline in fertility rates”

Catherine Trundle: “Us”: Reckoning with New Zealand’s Racism in the Wake of the Mosque Attacks. “The reality is that believing oneself to be non-racist is now simply not enough. We have to be anti-racist, and that requires a more active position of publicly rejecting hatred, even when it’s not directed at us”

Max Harris: Racism and White Defensiveness in Aotearoa: A Pākehā Perspective “I see at least four types of white defensiveness.”

Scott Poynting: ‘Terrorism has No Religion’ “What hate crime and terrorism have in common — and this crime was both — is that they victimise communities beyond those directly targeted, in order to ‘send a message’.”

Sara Kindon: Hard questions about inseparable events. “Indigenous and other scholars and activists have long made connections between the violence wrought on the Earth and that inflicted on marginalised groups. ‘Nature’ and those deemed to be closer to it by dint of race, ethnicity, age, gender or sexuality are routinely violated, exploited or killed in the name of progress and modernity for the usually white, adult, privileged few.”

Anne Salmond: Christchurch shootings: The doctrine of white superiority is alive and well in NZ. “The doctrine of white superiority is based on arrogance, and ignorance. Since other cultures, languages and religions are worthless, there’s no need to learn about them. The “others” are dehumanised, making their misery and suffering unreal.”

Asim Qureshi New Zealand cannot erase colonial terrorism from its history. “if New Zealand hopes to have any chance of recovery from what it has suffered, then it must first seriously confront its own colonial history, and how that colonial violence continues to be excluded from the foundational myths of New Zealand as a tolerant society”

Mental Health Foundation: Extremism is not a mental illness. “White supremacy is not a mental illness. When we talk about mental illness in relation to these kinds of attacks, most of us aren’t talking about the facts of mental distress; that it is an experience more than half of us will share and a sign that someone needs help and support. Instead, we’re using “mentally ill” as a short-hand for “violent” and “threatening” and “a risk to the community.” This is deeply troubling.”

Moana Jackson: The connection between white supremacy and colonisation. “When the tragedy is caused by something unspeakable, then naming and challenging what has been done is part of the release, and part of the hope for change.”

Racism and Islamophobia in Australia

Ghassan Hage White entitlement is part of the very structure of Australian society. “white nationalism expresses itself primarily as a sense of white entitlement. To put it succinctly it is the belief that, if you are white and you are not doing well, economically or in whatever way you imagine you are not doing well, you have every right to expect better precisely because you are white”

Chris Graham: Australia’s hate now for export. “To consider the Australian terrorist’s actions you need to understand a little about that nation’s dark past and the quality of its present leadership.”

For Muslim People, by the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association. “We stand with Muslim scholars who have been marginalised within and purposefully excluded from the same academy that offers millions of dollars to researchers conducting what are often harmful studies on Muslim people”

Public speeches, vigils and remberence

Wellington Vigil for Christchurch at The Basin Reserve, 19 March.

MP Golriz Ghahraman Speech at the Christchurch Shooting Auckland Vigil

MP Marama Davidson’s Speech at the Christchurch Shooting Auckland Vigil

National Remembrance Service, Christchurch, March 29


International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding Islamophobia, Social Distance, and Fear of Terrorism in Australia: A preliminary report. (2015).

Dr Derya Iner: Islamophobia in Australia 2014-2016 Report.

The Challenging Racism Report. A Western Sydney University Project collating a wide range of reports on racism and Islamophobia in Australia.

KHAIRIAH A. RAHMAN and AZADEH EMADI: Representations of Islam and Muslims in New Zealand media. “Media studies on Islam show negative portrayals in Western media which neglect the Muslim voice…This article identifies the growing trend of stories in the New Zealand media relating to ‘Islamic terrorism’ “

Global dimensions of white supremacy

Brendan O’Connor: White Supremacy Is Bigger Than 8Chan. Blaming the Internet alone for racist mass shootings is a naive delusion.

Jessie Daniels: The Algorithmic Rise of the “Alt-Right”. “As with so many technologies, the Internet’s racism was programmed right in—and it’s quickly fueled the spread of White supremacist, xenophobic rhetoric throughout the western world.”

NPR A former neo-Nazi explores what drew him in – and how he got out. This podcast interview with a former neo-Nazi explores how he was recruited, the role of propaganda music, and how the white nationalist movement has entered mainstream media.

CJ Werleman: Rupert Murdoch’s Islamophobic media empire. A new study of six Murdoch-owned newspapers in Australia reveals that on average eight negative stories appeared about Islam or Muslims per day – and that’s just a tiny fraction of the billionaire’s global media empire.

Vikram Dodd: Anti-Muslim hate crimes soar in UK after Christchurch shootings. “rise in number of incidents related to NZ attacks alarms community groups”

Practical Action

This is our New Zealand: Report Islamophobia. Created by a group on New Zealand Muslim women in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack on the Muslim community, this website is a place to share and record abuse against the Muslim community.

Tarapuhi Vaeau offers good advice on how to handle this week at work and with colleagues in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

Supporting the victims and their families. The New Zealand Islamic Information Centre (NZIIC) has set up a crowdfunding campaign

The New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups has also set up a crowdfunding campaign on Givealittle

Volunteering group Collaborate has set up a Facebook group to connect people who want to support the Muslim community and those affected in Christchurch with volunteer opportunities.

Sana Qadar and Kellie Scott: After Christchurch, here’s how you can be a good ally to those who feel marginalised. Australian article – “We spoke to a range of people (minorities, allies and activists) for advice on how to be an effective ally to those who feel marginalised — not just in the aftermath of horrible events.”

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