“Hello, brother” were the last words of one of the victims during the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand on March 15. He looked at the face of someone who intended to hurt him with open arms and a smile. Walk into any mosque in the world, and you will realize that the compassion that this man had isn’t unique. It is customary for Muslims to greet each other with the Arabic greeting “As Salamu-wa-alaikum” which means, peace and blessing be upon you.
After the tragic 49 lives lost in New Zealand, there is a somber mood over the Muslim community today. Islamophobia has unfortunately become a mainstream, international movement that continually “otherizes” Muslims and makes them the enemy. Not only was the shooting tragic, but it was clearly a product of the Islamophobic rhetoric present in our political discourse today, with the terrorist even thanking Donald J. Trump in his manifesto.
In times like this, it is immanent that we step up and show our Muslim neighbors that we stand with them. Thoughts and prayers are important, but things like reaching out to the Santa Barbara Muslim Community or having conversations with loved ones on why hate speech is wrong and can lead to violence, are tangible actions that will lead to greater change.
Additionally, the UC Santa Barbara Muslim Student Association is holding a vigil this Monday, March 18, from noon to 2 p.m. in front of Storke Tower on the UCSB campus, to honor all the lives that were lost and to stand in solidarity against Islamophobia.