- New Zealand politicians, members of the media, and non-Muslim women embraced displays of Muslim faith Friday in an effort to show solidarity with the country’s Muslim community after the Christchurch shootings.
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern donned a hijab, along with thousands of other non-Muslim women, and recited a passage from the Koran at a ceremony in Hagley Park shortly before the Muslim call to prayer was broadcast nationwide.
- Despite overwhelming support for the #scarvesinsolidarity campaign, Muslim and non-Muslim critics lambasted it, arguing that hijabs are used to oppress women in Muslim majority countries.
New Zealand politicians and journalists have embraced Islam in their efforts to show solidarity with the Muslim community after the Christchurch shootings.
Thousands of New Zealanders engaged in nationally sanctioned displays of Islamic faith Friday, ranging from the national broadcast of the Islamic call to prayer and non-Muslim women donning hijabs to newspapers running Arabic greetings on their front pages. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, police officers, and news anchors joined in the displays of faith throughout the day. (RELATED: Female News Anchors In New Zealand Are Wearing Hijabs After Attack)
New Zealand broadcast the Islamic call to prayer at 1:30 p.m. local time nationwide, the time when the attacks began the previous Friday, on both television and radio. Thousands of New Zealanders of various faiths also gathered at Hagley Park and other areas around the country to attend a live call to prayer, followed by two minutes of silence and reflection.
Ardern also recited a passage from the Koran prior to the call to prayer.
On this holy day of Friday for Muslims across the world, we join those in New Zealand who have observed the Muslim call to prayer and two minutes of silence in Christchurch’s Hagley Park, one week after the terror attacks that killed 50 people at two mosques. pic.twitter.com/TV9HaXARR0
— Remembering Srebrenica (@SrebrenicaUK) March 22, 2019
WATCH: New Zealanders of all faiths observed the Muslim call to prayer on Friday in memory of the worshipers killed during the Christchurch mosque attacks.
50 people were killed in shootings at two different mosques one week ago. pic.twitter.com/nDwb8BJbAi
— KUTV 2News (@KUTV2News) March 22, 2019
One week on from the mosque shootings which left 50 dead, people across New Zealand joined the call to prayer and held a two-minute silence in honour of the victims https://t.co/uGCzTpBYFz pic.twitter.com/JwYBphsiL4
— ITV News (@itvnews) March 22, 2019
Politicians and members of the media also reportedly began their broadcasts and addresses with the Arabic greeting Al Salaam Alaykum.
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern opening her address to Parliament today: “As-salamu alaykum, peace be upon you, and peace be upon all of us.” pic.twitter.com/tFnXxXoL7e
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) March 19, 2019
Some New Zealand newspapers also featured a version of the greeting on their front pages.
The newspaper this morning in Christchurch, New Zealand. Salam is is the Arabic word for Peace and the greeting of the Muslims.. pic.twitter.com/R7MsNrkruW
— SHAWAN SARKAR (@ShawanSarkar) March 22, 2019
Thaya Ashman, a doctor in Auckland, began the social media campaign #scarvesinsolidarity after the shooting, urging non-Muslim women to wear hijabs on Friday as a show of support for the Muslim community.
The campaign garnered massive support throughout the country, with leaders like Ardern wearing a hijab to Hagley Park and thousands of women donning hijabs for ceremonies to commemorate the mosque shooting victims, 50 of whom were killed and several others who were hospitalized with wounds. Muslim volunteers even distributed hijabs at the events and helped non-Muslim women don them, according to The Washington Post.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quotes the Prophet Muhammad before a national broadcast of the call to prayer and tells grievers: “New Zealand mourns with you. We are one.” pic.twitter.com/741rsEIoY6
— Pillars Fund (@pillars_fund) March 22, 2019
A nationwide reflection for those killed in the Christchurch terror attacks.
The Muslim call to prayer will be at 1.30pm followed by a two-minute silence at 1.32pm.
— RNZ (@radionz) March 21, 2019
“Why am I wearing a headscarf today? Well, my primary reason was that if anybody else turns up waving a gun, I want to stand between him and anybody he might be pointing it at. And I don’t want him to be able to tell the difference, because there is no difference,” Bell Sibly, a woman in Christchurch, told Reuters.
Women police officers providing security for the ceremonies and later for the burial of the victims also sported hijabs.
A non-Muslim police officer wears hijab while protecting Muslims to show her solidarity.
— Islam Channel (@Islamchannel) March 22, 2019
Our Police, our Prime Minister, Our News Anchors and many others were in the Hijab today. The Islamic call to prayer was on all the tv and radio stations before the minutes silence. This is my New Zealand. This is my Aotearoa. #thisismynewzealand #christchurch #JacindaArdern pic.twitter.com/FjT8z0UWGx
— Craig Arnold (@craig_m_arnold) March 22, 2019
The campaign for non-Muslim women to wear hijabs garnered criticism, however, as hijabs and various other forms of Islamic headwear for women are seen as a form of oppression against women, since wearing them is not optional for women in conservative Muslim communities.
What a slap in the face to all of the Muslim women who are not given the freedom to choose to wear a headscarf. https://t.co/Z52CHcrcGj
— Richard Armande Mills (RAM) (@RAMRANTS) March 22, 2019
This is exactly how wound collectors exploit a tragedy to press their agenda, in this case to put a hijab on every woman in New Zealand. This is a terrible idea. #freefromhijab @freefromhijab https://t.co/Dg72pQYU0T
— Asra Q. Nomani, PI (@AsraNomani) March 20, 2019
Hi @rachelmacg, We at @freefromhijab are women from Muslim backgrounds. Pls do NOT wear a #headscarfforharmony with Muslims. It is a symbol of purity culture antithetical to feminist values. We have women in jail & dead, for refusing the interpretation of Islam you promote. https://t.co/BvY3xF1bhz
— Asra Q. Nomani, PI (@AsraNomani) March 21, 2019
Despite the criticism from Muslims and non-Muslims alike, New Zealand women took to the embrace of conservative Islam with fervor.
“If I could I would be attending the mosque and standing outside to show my support for my Muslim whanau but I’ve got lectures and I can’t really skip them,” college student Kate Workman, who wore a hijab Friday, told The Globe Post.
Other women who wore hijabs, like Rafaela Stoakes, expressed similar sentiments.
“It is amazing how different I felt for the short time I was out this morning,” Stoakes told AFP.
“There were a lot of confused looks and some slightly aggressive ones,” she said. “I did feel a sense of pride to honor my Muslim friends, but I also felt very vulnerable and alone as I was the only person wearing one.”
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