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Act of Terror in Christchurch Was Designed To Put Fear in Our Hearts but We Will Not Be Cowed By Terror and Bigotry

By Ridwaan Jadwat

March 23, 2019

Australians share their deepest sympathies with those affected by the devastating terrorist attack by a right-wing extremist in Christchurch and share the grief of New Zealanders and Muslim communities the world over.

What took place in Christchurch was an abhorrent attack based on an ideology of hate. As we have seen since this time, this attack does not reflect the fundamental values of tolerance and diversity.

As Prime Minister Morrison has said: the Christchurch attack “was an attack on all peace-loving peoples, on all innocent peoples and that’s why we can all stand together in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters who were the specific targets of this attack”. He also said: “Muslim Australians are us” and “an attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths”.

The day after the attack, the prime minister and foreign minister reached out to the Muslim community to convey deep condolences and show solidarity, visiting a mosque and meeting Muslim leaders including the Grand Mufti and the Australian National Imams Council.

The Australian government will continue its close engagement and dialogue with the Muslim community. The Australian government completely denounces comments that seek to denigrate Muslims and Islam and will always speak out against this.

The prime minister will lead a bipartisan motion in the Parliament to denounce these terrorist acts of hate, and those who make excuses for them, including by acting swiftly to denounce the appalling comments by an isolated Australian senator. Such comments have no place in Australia.

We will always protect and defend our Muslim community in Australia and our people’s right to practise peacefully their religion without fear. Everyone has a right to feel safe in their places of worship.

We welcome any process that encourages respect, tolerance and interfaith dialogue. This is something all nations must strive to achieve.

Australia is proud of its diversity, which has greatly enriched our nation, and made us one of the most harmonious multicultural societies in the world.

The Australian government is strongly committed to ensuring our migrant and faith communities continue to feel welcomed and safe in Australia. The Australian government is accelerating and extending community safety grants to protect religious schools, places of religious worship and religious assembly.

Australia stands by New Zealand, and we are doing everything we can to assist its response to this tragedy, and we will do this as long as our New Zealand friends need us.

Our two nations, including our Muslim communities, stand in solidarity, and we stand in solidarity with Muslim communities across the world.

This is the time for unity and inclusion. We must all work together against extremism and take care to ensure our public debates about this horrific incident do not encourage the very divisions between faiths and cultures that extremists seek to create.

This act of terror in Christchurch was designed to put fear in our hearts but we will not be cowed by terror and bigotry.

The aim of terrorists is to divide us and to turn our citizens against each other — but we will not let them win. We must stand together as we do today as an international community, united against terrorism, racism, extremism, discrimination and violence.

Ridwaan Jadwat is Australian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen and special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The article is based on his remarks delivered to the OIC meeting in Istanbul.