MSA Meeting: Reactions to the Christchurch Shooting

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By Bindu Koyi and Jacqueline Cho, Staff Writers

At their weekly meeting on March 19th, The Townsend Harris High School Muslim Student Association presented a new topic for discussion:What are your reactions to the New Zealand shooting? Students in the club and those who came to talk about the shooting shared their opinions with one another.

At about 1:40 pm on Friday, March 15, 2019, Muslims who were praying in the Christchurch mosques heard multiple shots pierce the air. News channels around the world were automatically tuned in on this crisis. The feeling of devastation expressed worldwide was reflected among the Muslims in the THHS community. Senior Asiya Koli said, “being that it was in the safe space of a mosque meant for peaceful worship and where my own family members go every single day, it hit differently and instantly brought me to tears.” However, some others found that the attack wasn’t surprising. Senior Atia Ahmed said, “In all honesty, I wasn’t truly surprised because attacks, such as the one that took place in New Zealand, have been occurring with alarming frequency for as long as I can remember.”

The MSA meeting offered a place for both MSA members and non-MSA members to discuss about their feelings in regards to the shooting.  Junior Khadiza Sultana, an MSA member, said that she felt particularly inclined to come to this meeting “to hear people’s thoughts on the shooting and how it made them feel.” Some non-members came because, according to Junior Awestaa Zia,  “[they] wanted to be around other people who could understand how it felt to hear 51 Muslims were murdered in a place that many of Muslims consider the safest place to be.”

After tragedies such as this one, there is often a moment of silence for the victims. However, many noted that Townsend Harris only gave the moment of silence a week after the event occured.  Senior Atia Ahmed conceded that “[she doesn’t] think that the lack of a moment of silence was malicious or intentional. There were so many other emotions and feelings running through my head that [she herself didn’t notice] until after the fact.”

Those who did realize there was no moment of silence like Asiya Koli were “hurt and angry.” She said, “It was not only greatly upsetting and disrespectful, but it displayed quite clearly the difference in value of white lives versus Muslim lives. It was also very hypocritical considering Townsend has always promoted a safe environment that is accepting for all. Clearly, that’s not the case.” Nevertheless, THHs did observe the moment of silence, which according to Atia, “was meaningful to the community.”

According to sophomore Ruqaiya Banu Mithani, the attendees of the meeting realized an overarching message: “We are selective about when it comes to the races we support and the injustice we speak against, but that shouldn’t be the case because injustice is injustice, no matter what group of people it is towards.”