New Zealand lived through horror on March 15 when a gunman opened fire inside two mosques in Christchurch, killing at least 50 people, including 5 Indians, and wounding as many. In the aftermath of the terror attack, nearly 40,000 New Zealanders attended a mass vigil in the city on March 23.
The vigil was also marked by two movements, “Scarves in Solidarity” and “Headscarves for Harmony”, that encouraged the citizens to wear headscarves modelled on the hijab to show solidarity with the Muslim community. Led by Anna Thomas, one of the organisers, the movement took shape to show a mark of respect and to shun Islamophobic ideology. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern donned a sombre black headscarf when she visited the Muslim community in Christchurch.
The grief in her eyes is real. That’s what women are made of – compassion and kindness. They grieve for others like they do for themselves. Love. #JacindaArden pic.twitter.com/gDettaGZke
— Shehryar Khanum (@shehryar_khanum) March 16, 2019
Women across the nation, including many TV news anchors and police officers, donned the hijab on March 22 to show their solidarity.
Very proud of many of my staff today at #WorldwideSchoolofEnglish #scarvesinsolidarity #notmynz wearing Hijab in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters pic.twitter.com/h4RcNoJuEl
— Cleve Brown (@WorldwideCleve) March 22, 2019
#scarvesinsolidarity #ChristchurchTerrorAttack #ChristchurchMosqueShooting
4 all the Muslims I’ve let down in my life and especially those I encountered during my initial teen years when I believed all Muslims r terrorists- a 1000 apologies. pic.twitter.com/We4ELWOEly
— Himalayan Escapade (@escapade_himal) March 21, 2019
Obstetric Medicine – supporting all women, of all faiths. #scarvesinsolidarity #ChristchurchTerrorAttack #TheyAreUsWeAreOne pic.twitter.com/3oXuaRVvJR
— Stephanie Cox (@DrStephanieCCox) March 21, 2019
Wearing a headscarf to uni as a show of support and solidarity with the many Muslim women who are routinely harassed for the act of following their faith. I will work hard to help raise up your voices in any way I can #HeadScarfforHarmony #scarvesinsolidarity #TheyAreUs pic.twitter.com/jIxaklYOBq
— Kate Mills Workman (@MillsWorkman) March 21, 2019
New channels of New Zealand today #Christchurch #NewZealand #scarvesinsolidarity pic.twitter.com/Dm4RYJbk3R
— Hoor (@hoorrulain) March 22, 2019
NZ paused today at 1.30 pm with a call to prayer and two minutes’ silence to remember those who killed and injured in last Friday’s attack in #Christchurch
Humanity wins#HeadScarfforHarmony #scarvesinsolidarity #NewZealand pic.twitter.com/3UZX3ScStT
— GHAUS ULLAH (@GHAUSULLAH3) March 22, 2019
New Zealanders are people from just another planet❤
While the whole world is suffering from Islamophobia, these beautiful souls r taking solidarity to another level by declaring #scarvesinsolidarity and women from all walks of life wearing Scarfs
I Love u all#NewZealand pic.twitter.com/sSZV6ozqIv
— اسد الرحمن (@AsadRehman_) March 22, 2019
However, many were opposed to the movements, calling it “tokenism” and labelling the hijab as a “symbol of oppression and control”.
Many of us lost everything, some even their lives & freedom bc of hijab! U wear it 1 day like it’s just some piece of cloth & think its empowering when u re only normalizing rape culture & oppression of millions of women all over the globe! #headscarfforharmony #freefromhijab
— Sayeda Murtad (@ScrappyNoot1) March 20, 2019
I’m not sure how I feel about #HeadscarfforHarmony
I dont agree with the principal of women having to wear specific clothes, and whilst I can respect rules if I am actively going to a place of worship, like I would in the Vatican, I cant decide if this is how to show support now.
— Brittany (@Brightknee91) March 20, 2019
I am sorry but I find it reprehensible to use the hijab to promote a message of tolerance and peace. There are countries where women get killed for not wearing the veil. I don’t think anything can justify it as a symbol of empathy or compassion https://t.co/mmKDsoqW0x
— Vasudha Venugopal (@vasudha_ET) March 23, 2019
I don’t understand why New Zealand’s white non-Muslim women need to wear Islamic hijab, the symbol of female oppression, as tribute to the victims of mosque attacks. Did New Zealand’s white non-Muslim men wear Islamic skullcap for solidarity? Or is it only women’s responsibility?
— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) March 22, 2019
Me: I don’t think it’s necessary for women to have to wear hijab in the 21st centu..
Family all at once: Whaaat!!? Should women just roam around naked, acting like prostitutes!!?#hijab #NoHijabDay #FreeFromHijab
— वेश्या طوائف (@JaiBoy) March 22, 2019
The March 15 attack on the mosques was carried out by a 28-year-old Australian man who was later arrested and charged with murder. He allegedly recorded his beliefs in a 73-page manifesto which documents the reason why he chose New Zealand as his target and included hate speech rhetoric.
Prime Minister Ardern, in a statement, called the attacks New Zealand’s “darkest days” and called it an act of terrorism.
“Christchurch was the home of these victims. For many, this may not have been the place they were born. In fact, for many, New Zealand was their choice. The place they actively came to, and committed themselves to. The place they were raising their families, where they were part of communities who they loved and who loved them. It was a place that many came to for its safety. A place where they were free to practice their culture and their religion.”
As a mark of appreciation, Burj Khalifa in the UAE displayed the iconic image of Ardern hugging one of the victims.
New Zealand today fell silent in honour of the mosque attacks’ martyrs. Thank you PM @jacindaardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world. pic.twitter.com/9LDvH0ybhD
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) March 22, 2019