JACINDA ARDERN-A TORCH BEARER

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ALI SUKHANVER

All places of worship must be safe and secure; it is one of the basic human rights of all religious sections of a society. Be it a temple, a mosque, a Buddhist monastery or a Church; all places of worship are sacred and sublime but forceful conversion of a Church into a Buddhist monastery or of a mosque into a temple is however a crime. Mishaps do occur, unpleasant incidents are always in possibility but wise rulers lessen the acidity of such unpleasant incidents with their kind wisdom. Last year the most peaceful land of flowers and fragrances New Zealand witnessed a very heart-rending incident of terrorism when two consecutive mass shootings occurred at mosques in a terrorist attack in Christchurch. That was 15th March 2019. According to the details a single gunman entered the Al Noor Mosque during Friday Prayer and started non-stop firing and then targeted the people in the neighboring Linwood Islamic Centre. Reports say that he killed 51 people and injured 49. It was all very horribly terrifying and no doubt nerve-breaking. At such a critical moment, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern played an exemplary role by providing all support to the victims and by establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry. Jacinda described the day as ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’. Her sympathy, kindness and the way she felt and shared the pain and agony of the victims was appreciated and admired all over the world. She simply set a new tradition in taking care of the minorities.

The religious and racial minorities always find them alone with no one to take care of them in some countries though a very few in number. In such countries, the minorities have to fall a victim to the hate crimes. The Muslims and the Sikhs are on the top of the list of those hated ones the basis of their religion. In August 2017, an analysis of A.C. Thompson was published in ProPublica with the title ‘Sikhs in America: A History of Hate’. The analysis says, “In the U.S, the Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.”

This resemblance with the Muslims so many times creates a lot of trouble for the Sikhs particularly in the societies where hatred for the Muslims is a dominating feature. According to the media details, in 2010, in West Sacramento, California, two men assaulted a Sikh cab driver breaking an orbital bone in his face and fracturing a bone in his spinal column. In their rage and fury, the attackers kept on calling the victim ‘Osama bin Laden’ during that violent activity. In short it is very unfortunate that in spite of not being the Muslims, the Sikhs have to face the hatred and disgust which actually is the fate of the Muslims in this ‘frightened’ world of today; just because of a little similarity in appearance with the Muslim community.

The worst of all are the Sikhs who are facing the same discrimination rather hatred not only in the West but in their own motherland India too. The Minority Rights Group published a report a few months back. The report says, “ Though the Khalistan movement has lost momentum in the latter half of the 1990s and early 2000s, the country-wide anti-Sikh riots in 1984 have left a lot of bitterness between the two communities – Hindus and Sikhs-and have left a deep sense of injustice in their wake.” It further states, “Various commissions have been set up since 1984 to investigate the riots by the government but there has been no move to punish the perpetrators of the violence or even to prosecute cases against them.”

Astonishing is the fact that most of the times religious hatred is overcome by racial hatred. The Blacks in the West are facing the same atrocities which the low-caste Hindus are facing in India. Most of the Blacks in the Western countries are the Christians and almost all low-castes are the Hindus in India. The commonality of religion fails in saving them from the racial-wrath. This all needs to be taken care of; things could be brought into a better position with the help of the thinkers, writers, poets, journalists, teachers and politicians. They all could prove a very useful tool in this context but even these tools could prove useless in the countries where the governments are blamed of supervising and patronizing the miscreants involved in racial and religious hatred.

On 5th August 2020, the ever worst example of racial and religious hatred was observed in India when Mr. Modi, in spite of a very tough resentment from the Muslims, inaugurated the construction work on the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The Aljazeera said commenting on the situation, “Justice has eluded those who suffered the loss of life and properties in the nationwide violence that ensued in the wake of the destruction of the mosque – often dubbed the darkest chapter of modern India.” Mr. Modi says that his party is trying to promote communal harmony and inter-religion brotherhood but practically it is very much obvious that his political party is doing its utmost to construct a China-Wall of distrust between the Muslims and the Hindus. Certainly this action of the BJP government would widen the distances between the two majority communities of India. If Jacinda Ardern were the Prime Minister of India, the state of affairs would not have been so depressing, disappointing and horrible. Certainly Mr. Modi must learn a lesson from her.