THE horrendous Christchurch mass killing of Muslims performing their Friday congregational prayer was the premeditated work of a fanatical white supremacist terrorist who believed he was protecting Caucasians like himself from the incursion of Muslim migrants into their territory.
Far right or far left, individuals who plan to kill and then execute their fellow humans in cold blood to uphold a socio-cultural cum political cause are mad men who must be incarcerated.
While the world reels in shock and horror at the magnitude of the killing, and absolute disgust at the nonchalance of the perpetrator in uploading his manifesto and live streaming the attack, Islamophobic terrorist cells everywhere will be applauding the deed and probably planning to copycat it.
To most of us the belief in the racial supremacy of the white race has long been debunked as, more and more, the exploitation of natives and the injustices committed by Western imperialists against them in their own homeland are being highlighted.
Criticism against white colonial rule is being played out as newer narratives of a country’s history emerges. Fingers point to unfair colonial government policies such as divide and rule, as being the root cause of many interethnic problems.
Local perspectives of history such as in Malaysia and Australia point to facts about native land ownership where the earliest settlers are seen to have original ownership of the land which rightfully makes them sons of the soil.
In many countries, native land is protected by law and incursions into them are illegal.
However with the migration of human groups hitting the shores from time immemorial there have arisen questions over rights and privileges, particularly in the twenty first century as shared resources become more scarce.
Questions arise as to whether migrant groups should have an equal share considering their contribution to the development of the country. On the other hand, claims are being made that as late arrivals they do not have the economic or socio-cultural rights to equality in their adoptive land.
What happened in Christchurch must have been a combination of factors, universal and local, grossly misinterpreted by a white supremacist fanatic who probably saw Muslim migration into peaceful New Zealand as a travesty against its predominantly white population.
His response was brutally KKK, in the manner of the extremist reactionary position of the American white supremacist hate group the Klu Klux Klan. Like the KKK terrorists, he shockingly murdered the Muslims whom he opposed.
Here in Malaysia where Malays are constitutionally endorsed as sons of the soil or bumiputera, there has always been unhappiness verging on resentment of the rights and privileges accrued to them by virtue of their special status.
It seems that with every general election when the democratic process plays up the people’s concern for equality, fairness and justice, a new wave of inter-ethnic disquiet hits the public arena resulting in divisive politics.
Non Malay groups claim their right to equality while Malay-Muslim groups hit back by reminding the ethnic minorities that they (Malays and other indigenous groups) are the original natives of the land or tuan punya tanah. Affirmative action is their right as many Malays are still economically disadvantaged.
In the fervour of these political repartees played up by chauvinistic politicians and their supporters and biasedly covered by some mainstream/social media, tempers flare and extremist sentiments get blown out of proportion.
More dangerously, some resort to symbolic drum-beating and keris-brandishing complete with ceremonial head gear as if they are going to war. Under the guise of the rakyat’s socio-cultural diversity there are warnings of potential interethnic trouble in the vein of that dreaded black date - 13 May 1969 - in Malaysian history.
Malaysians must indeed take a serious leaf from the Christchurch episode. While most of us are committed to ensuring that peace and harmony are preserved in our beloved country, and that collaboration and cohesion are unifying values we proudly uphold, we must be aware that lurking in corners of the country are individuals and groups who are fanatical in the belief that they are superior.
Among some Malay political groups, ketuanan is the philosophy that drives their every effort to defend the Malay-Muslim rights and privileges enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
And behind closed doors, non Malay political groups furtively discredit this ethnic pomposity and create their own narrative of economic superiority.
And the interethnic squabbles go on and on ad infinitum with political engagements, marriages and divorce being the order of the day – leaving the electorate utterly confused.
It is high time the country’s political, religious and community leaders allay this frightening development before a major disaster hits our shores. We have seen rumblings on the ground, in temples, churches, mosques and other houses of worship where the slightest incident can spark off violence.
We know extremist cells exist where racial and religious supremacy is their clarion call. These groups must be hunted down and their leaders incarcerated.
Meantime, ordinary Malaysians must double up their vigilance and commitment to organising peace-building efforts in and among the community.
* Datuk Halimah Mohd Said is the President of Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason (PCORE).
** The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of Astro AWANI.