Editor’s note: Zainab Baloch a Muslim of Pakistani descent, is a likely candidate for Raleigh City Council (and perhaps mayor). The following is adapted from a post on Medium and is reprinted with Baloch’s permission. It has been edited for style and to update references to events that have already happened.
I started Friday morning by telling my friend, “The only place I feel fully secure is at my masjid,” the Islamic Association of Raleigh. I ended this day watching a Facebook Live video of a white supremacist terrorist gunning down forty-nine children, women, and men in two masjids in Christchurch, New Zealand, during prayers on Friday, our holy day. This is the deadliest massacre in New Zealand since 1943.
At the same time that the shooting began in Christchurch, high schoolers and youth leaders were gathering just blocks away as part of the youth-led Global Climate Strike. This stark contrast shows the best of the world juxtaposed with the worst of the world.
I wish I could be with my family and community in Raleigh right now. Instead, I am at the Climate Reality Project training in Atlanta, where I spent the day learning about how the same systems of hate and greed that produce environmental injustice and climate change produce racism and discrimination.
We also learned at the training about how these injustices are global. I saw today that white supremacy knows no borders. I saw it when the shooter in Christchurch sported the same Nazi imagery that white supremacists wore in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The motive of the massacre is clear. The terrorists meant to cause fear for us in the place where we feel the safest.
White supremacist terrorists in South Carolina and Pennsylvania have tried to instill the same fear in black Christians and Jews. Our country has failed to protect so many of us against this kind of targeted, hateful attack, which comes all too often.
One shooter wrote a manifesto on Twitter foreshadowing his violent actions, but Twitter took no action. In the wake of the shootings, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have all failed to control the sharing and manipulation of this disturbing video on their platforms.
It’s hard to grapple with the fact that no space — virtual or physical — is open and safe for Muslims except our masjids. White supremacist terrorists recognize this fact, and so they try to take our safe spaces away from us.
The shooting is especially horrific because Friday is the holiest day, and Muslims around the world gather for Friday prayers (Jummah). In a time like this, it’s essential for Muslims to be able to access our places of worship. Christchurch police told Muslims to stay away from their masjids in the wake of the shooting as a precautionary measure. I struggle to imagine a reality where I couldn’t go to my masjid in a crisis. I remember my community gathering in my masjid during a tornado to pray and stay safe. We need our faith in the wake of a tragedy like this.
We don’t need your thoughts and prayers. We don’t need your surprise. We aren’t surprised. The time for shock has passed—we’re done with this shit. We need collective action.
- Tweet @RaleighPolice. The LAPD has announced it will provide extra support to masjids in its city. I am calling on the Raleigh Police Department to support the Muslim community in our city too.
- Be there for us. Check in with your Muslim friends. We put our lives at risk just to pray. We’ll be having a community gathering at a later time.
- Show Raleigh the best of us. Attend events like the N.C. Climate Strike on Halifax Mall, which took place Friday, where students skipped school to demand courageous action on climate.
- Donate. Support the GoFundMe for the families in New Zealand who face an uphill battle to grieve, pay for funeral costs, and come to terms with their new normal.
- Join the movement. We need to dismantle the systems of hate, greed, and white supremacy that lead to tragedies like the one in Christchurch. We’ve been fighting this fight for a long time, and it will always be a marathon and not a sprint. Come out today, but don’t let that be the end. Join ongoing efforts like with the NC Poor People’s Campaign.
I still stand by my statement that the only place I feel fully secure is at my masjid. I will not be intimidated, and I will not be kept from God.
I need to know that Raleigh, my hometown, is with me.