I was filled with shock and sadness over the news of an Australian terrorist murdering innocent New Zealanders in their place of worship in Christchurch. My heart aches for the victims, their families and friends, and all Kiwis. I’m proud to have been born and raised in New Zealand – it is one of the most peace loving nations and an even more successful multicultural country than Australia. New Zealand has often dealt with difficult social, local, and global issues either before or better than Australia and in the New Zealand I know and love, this tragic attack on their way of life will make the country stronger and more united.
Diversity makes our society rich and interesting and most Australians value multiculturalism, but we must do better to call out and end Islamophobia, bigotry and racism. Misinformation, political opportunism based on race, religion and sexuality, and hate speech are divisive and can act to sanction violence towards a particular group. Most social media platforms have avenues for reporting racist and hateful messages and I encourage people not to give culprits oxygen by sharing inflammatory and divisive comments that incite fear and distrust of a group of people.