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Tackling the issue of xenophobia must start with us

The Christchurch mosque massacre is a tragedy. But like all tragedies, it is also a farce.

It is a farce because this should never have happened. Various irresponsible elements across the world should never have fanned the flames of xenophobic hate that enabled this massacre to begin with.

The same people who are so happy to condemn Shamima Begum are so quick to humanise this monster (whose name I do not know, nor care to), as he is white and she is not. Because she is a terrorist, and he is “mentally ill”, as though mental illness were a polite euphemism to cover up how many criminals are too white for racists to be comfortable with. Like all historical personages, it has happened not once, not twice, but so many uncountable times that we are numb to its horror.

Yet, change starts with our individual actions

We are complicit in its happening. You may consider this crime as a far removed, distant event on the other side of the world, in far away New Zealand. You may consider that it has nothing to do with this country where this could never happen. You may close an eye to the 40% increase in religious hate crimes across the UK last year, and pretend (to the background of Korean students assaulted in London while nobody helped) that this country is somehow immune to the rising tide of hate which threatens to drown the world. Let me be absolutely clear, you are wrong.

Such apparatuses of hate are global institutions that are made up not only of impersonal abstracts of “culture”, “societies”, and “values”, but by the individual actions that we collectively take as well. More than this, when we fail to stand up to casual racism — we are all guilty. In a system of oppression, there is no such thing as neutrality. If you don’t care enough about an injustice to oppose it, you declare, with your inaction, that you are happy to allow and enable it to continue.

If we care about these issues at all, we must work to change them: even with the smallest word of objection raised to a hateful structure

There are organisations in Britain that do a tremendous job of tackling these issues. Organisations like MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) and TELL MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attack’s) combat islamophobia in the country. Across Europe and the world, ENAR (The European Network Against Racism) and the Islamic Human Rights Commission. Here at Warwick, such societies as STAR (Student Action for Refugees) and WAR (Warwick Anti Racism Society) are doing fantastic work to help increase inclusion on a local level.

Yet, change starts with our individual actions. A word spoken over dinner calling out a family member. Making an effort to smile at all you see on the street, no matter their skin or creed or outfit. Because, we make up the systems of oppression, and if we care about these issues at all, we must work to change them: even with the smallest word of objection raised to a hateful structure.

This is how we make the world a better place. It starts with us, not only with us calling out others for their behaviours which we find objectionable, but understanding which of ours are problematic as well, and fixing them.

My most heartfelt condolences to the victims of this crime. May you find peace in this world and the next.

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