Australian Senator Fraser Anning has blamed Muslims for the Christchurch attack and quoted from the Bible to imply that they deserved what happened to them.
This was “the worst massacre in New Zealand’s history”. A white man identified as Brenton Tarrant opened fire on two mosques killing 49 people and injuring 48 others, shocking the world and eliciting condemnation.
“While Muslims may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators,” Anning said in a statement. He then went on to quote the scripture: “As we read in Matthew 26:52, ‘All they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword’ and those who follow a violent religion that calls on them to murder us, cannot be too surprised when someone takes them at their word and responds in kind.”
The senator wished to make the argument that Muslims were to blame for what happened even though they themselves were the victims.
The senator may have quoted from the Bible but it can be argued that he took the words out of context. The verse’s words refer to what was said by Jesus Christ to Simon Peter (one of Christ’s disciples) when Peter had cut off the ear of a soldier who had come to arrest Jesus. Many Christians generally understand that these words are taken to discourage violent behaviour.
There is another flaw in Anning’s rhetoric. He said that Muslims are being targeted because they are “behind” terrorist attacks. By that logic, white Christians will pay for the misdeeds of terrorists who also happen to be white or Christian.
One would argue that whether it is Tarrant, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis who opened fire at a school in Texas, or Jaish-e-Mohammad that was held responsible for Pulwama, any person who kills innocents and spreads terror can be described as a “terrorist”. As Prime Minister Imran Khan himself said in a tweet, “Terrorism does not have a religion”. It cuts across language, class, nationality, colour, religion, age, and as the world has seen, even time.
The question is why did Anning feel the need to blame Muslims and not focus on stricter gun control in New Zealand, which is how other people chose to react? He said that, “left-wing politicians will blame gun laws” and that it is “cliched nonsense.” When someone openly carries two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns and goes live on Facebook for 17 minutes to film the killing of innocent people, how can the senator ignore New Zealand’s gun laws?
According to BBC, the New Zealand Police estimated that around 1.2 million legal firearms were owned by civilians in 2016, which means that there was one firearm owned by every four people in the country. The minimum legal age for a firearms license is 16 and 18 for military-style semi-automatic weapons.
Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark told the BBC that she would be surprised if parliament did not legislate for stricter gun control in the country. “Questions are now being asked… how could [he] have amassed the guns?” she said. And indeed, in a press conference soon after the attack, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that she guarantees the country’s gun laws are going to change. This is what one would deem to be a reasonable response from a government; it takes a hard look at what needs to change to make it difficult for people to so easily perpetrate such levels of violence.
Anning also said that there was a “growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence”. This defied logic: the Muslims were targets themselves, not his “community”. If anything, it would be the Muslims of Australia and New Zealand who should be afraid of white Christian men and their majority presence.