The Financial Express

Learning lessons from New Zealand PM

Mohammad Amjad Hossain | Published: March 22, 2019 21:00:44

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arderin New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arderin

It is really amazing to note a relatively young politician of New Zealand Prime Minister Mrs. Jacinda Arderin, who is hardly 16 months into power, has mesmerised the world leaders in facing the tragic massacre of 50 Muslims worshippers, including three from Bangladesh at two mosques of Christchurch on March 15. More than 40 were injured in the twin attacks. New Zealand has never faced such a deadly attack. Ironically, sixteen-year-old Syrian refugee Hamza Mustafa who escaped atrocities in Syria, was killed by the gunman. Similarly, 71-year-old Afghan Daoud Nabi who escaped war in Afghanistan and settled in New Zealand did not survive either while shielding a friend's body. Somalian escapee Mucad Ibrahim, 3-year-old, was not spared by the gunman. However, Bangladesh cricket team escaped the atrocities by a whisker and left for Bangladesh unhurt. The cricket team went to New Zealand to play a Test series against the hosts.

Having faced with criticism at home for handling economy while bureaucratic blunder has caused her efforts in introducing affordable housing complicated, she has been termed an inspirational leader like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron as New Zealand Prime Minister took immediate steps following the mass shooting at two mosques. She immediately declared the mass killer, a white supremacist from Australia Brenton Harrison Tarrant as a "terrorist" and next day she not only visited the affected mosques following the attack, but also she visited members of refugee community and the Muslim community wearing black dress and Muslim style Hijabs. She reportedly told them the whole nation was" united in grief". New Zealand Prime Minister called an Australian lawmaker's suggestion of a link between Muslim immigration and violence as "disgrace". In an unusual manner the Prime Minister of New Zealand declared to cover funeral costs of all victims and offered financial assistance to the affected families. Apart from this humanitarian gesture the cabinet of New Zealand discussed change of gun laws on March 18 and New Zealand's coalition government planned to introduce the new gun law next week.

This step by the New Zealand Prime Minister speaks in contrast to President Donald Trump who recently refused to recognise growing atrocities by supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in the United States after the grievous incident at Charlottesville in Virginia on August 12 in 2017. Clashes between white nationalists, neo-Nazi and members of Alt-right and co1unter protesters were co "condemned in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides" by President Donald Trump. But he never mentioned the rise of white supremacists.

Since the deadliest attack on two mosques at Christchurch there has been vigil around New Zealand to mourn deadliest massacres in New Zealand. Hundreds of high school students paid tributes on March 18 at Hagley Park, opposite to Al Noor mosque, to the victims of deadliest attacks on two mosques at Christchurch. Hosted by the Victoria University branch of Amnesty International, around 2,000 people attended a vigil on March 21to mourn the 50 Muslims killed while thousands attended a vigil at Wellington's Basin reserve on March 18. A huge number of people from different strata of the society attended a burial service for a victim from the March 15 mosque shooting at the memorial park cemetery in Christchurch on March 21.

In an editorial the New Zealand Herald on March 21 pointed out negligence of intelligence agencies not watching one extreme of the political spectrum closely enough and we need all our security agencies to learn what they could have done to prevent it. According to the Washington Post of March 18, "the shooting of Muslim worshippers by the alleged white supremacist underscored the deep partisan divide over President Trump's rhetoric on immigrants and whether his words serve as incitement for extreme violence". In an interview with Fox News the acting chief of staff of President Trump said it was absurd to draw a connection between Trump's statements about immigration and the admitted shooter's own words on the subject. Declared terrorist Tarrant described himself as 'an ethno-nationalist eco-fascist' while he dismissed his attorney to face alone in the court. A newly-elected Muslim House of Representative member Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, meanwhile, urged President Trump to condemn white nationalism after the horrific attacks on two mosques in New Zealand. President Trump offered condolences but he "does not believe white nationalism is a growing global danger and that suspect belongs to a small group of people that have very, very serious problems".

New Zealand is the land for more than 200 ethnicities in a population of 4.8 million. While President Trump is planning capping refugee numbers and declared banning entry from five Muslim countries, the Prime Minister of New Zealand plans to increase accepting more refugees like the Canadian Prime Minister. The act and action of New Zealand's Prime Minister are really praiseworthy indeed.

Mohammad Amjad Hossain, retired diplomat from Bangladesh and former President of Toastmaster International Club of America, writes from Virginia.


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