Time for reckoning

Immigrants and minorities in the US and Europe are increasingly feeling insecure and vulnerable

Editorial March 18, 2019

Friday’s attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 50 worshippers dead, have been roundly condemned by all shades of opinion. Calls have been growing to confront the alarming spread of hate and racism that in recent years has resulted in the slaughter of scores of people.

Immigrants and minorities in the US and Europe are increasingly feeling insecure and vulnerable as hate-filled white supremacist campaign, exemplified by mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant, rallies wider support.

In the backdrop of this tragedy, an emergency meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been called on March 22 in Istanbul to discuss the causes, impacts and way forward, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi announced on Sunday.

This meeting is crucial, especially since the victims of Christchurch shooting came from different Islamic countries, and this umbrella group needs to craft its response to the sickening violence.

Addressing a press conference, the foreign minister said that he has been in contact with his Turkish counterpart and the two have agreed to summon the meeting. Turkey currently holds the rotating OIC presidency.

The idea behind summoning the meeting is to devise a strategy against Islamophobia, while keeping the Christchurch tragedy in mind, he said, adding that the participants will discuss the root cause of the issue.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also called for holding an emergency meeting of the OIC during a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. In a statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Zarif called for “appropriate reaction of Muslim states to this heinous crime”.

Qureshi said that according to the authorities in New Zealand, the process for identification of bodies has been completed and they will start handing over all bodies to their heirs on Monday.

Qureshi informed reporters that the families of six Pakistani victims have decided to offer funeral prayers and bury their loved ones in Christchurch, while families of three victims want to bring back the bodies to offer last rituals in Pakistan. He said that he has already asked New Zealand officials to speed up the process.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2019.

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