Editorial comment – When reality sets in

Armed police following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Mar 15, 2019. REUTERS

THERE can be no doubts about the impact the horrific killings in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday have had on the world.

It made the headlines around the world, including on BBC and CNN.

It emphasised the fact that the global community is very tightly linked, and the world is quite small with the advent of technology and progressive development.

The senseless killings sent shockwaves across the world.

It probably was the impact the accused killer had wanted, and had a hand in manipulating on his social media handle.

The outpouring of condemnation from around the world was expected.

World leaders came out quickly with messages of support for those affected, there was shock and sympathy.

In the face of all that emotional outpouring of support and grief, is Mohammed Ashif’s story.

He relives his experience and offers us a frightening glimpse from inside walls that saw death.

It is sad that within walls that promoted calmness, respect, unity, and love for one another, the sounds of gunfire, and the ruthless hunger for death, probably driven by anger and hatred shattered the peaceful setting.

Tears flowed freely as Fijians gathered for a candle light vigil at the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre last night to remember the lives of those gunned down in the attacks at the two mosques in Christchurch.

The vigil was attended by academics, tertiary students, representatives of civil societies and Christian denominations and people from all walks of life.

FWCC co-ordinator Shamima Ali said, “Religion is about love and compassion. In solidarity we stand with our New Zealand brothers and sisters as they try to recover from this painful event.

“We hope that this never happens in our country, just imagine it happened right next door to our New Zealand neighbour. Let’s pray that this will never happen in Fiji,” Ms Ali said.

That is a powerful statement. In his manifesto, the gunman revealed that he was inspired by Norway mass killer Anders Behring Breivik and that an attack in NZ would show that nowhere in the world was safe.

It raises the issue of how prepared our police force is to handle such an incident here.

Do we have the capability that was displayed by the New Zealand police, which went into action with its armed units to bring about a semblance of order as soon as possible?

It was reassuring to see armed units of the NZ police locking down strategic areas in the hunt for the killer. There will no doubt be focus on our police force’s capability to effectively deal with such an event.

We once had the specialised Police Tactical Response unit and Police Mobil Unit.

The challenge will now be on our own police force to tighten up our response capability in the wake of this shocking development.

Our challenge is to ensure we are part of the process of embracing unity, respect, and love for one another. Afterall, at one time, we were the way the world should be.

We live in a country that has long embraced multi-racialism. We have long lived together in peace and harmony, our differences cast aside in an amazing show of unity.

We have grown up as people who respect these differences, and we have learnt to appreciate them, and live with them.

We can unite against adversity and hatred.

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