The whole world should take New Zealand as an example

The whole world should take New Zealand as an example

A week after the brutal and shocking terrorist attack that left 51 Muslims dead, astuteness and wisdom displayed by the people of New Zealand and its government under the leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the management of such an unprecedented crisis have been appreciated by the entire world.  

Her messages full of conscious and conscience embraced the Muslim communities of New Zealand and assured them that they are first-class citizens of their country while strongly condemning the massacre.

A number of symbolic gestures like holding a special session in parliament with recitation of verses from the Quran or airing last week’s Friday prayer through television channels has seemingly created an enormous impact on both Muslim and Christian communities of New Zealand in regards to highlighting this country will continue to live as one with its ethnic and religious differences.

She has also undertaken concrete measures by suggesting a ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons in her country and calling on all the citizens to hand over all their guns to law enforcement.

“I don’t think I am displaying leadership,” she was quoted as saying by the New Zealand press. “I just think I am displaying humanity.”

Amid calls for her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, it’s pretty certain that Ardern will continue to follow her “humanity comes first” line and, therefore, to set an example for all the leaders and politicians in the world.

Her leadership has been well appreciated by Turkey as well. At an emergency meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, all participants including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke highly of Ardern and New Zealand’s government.

“Ardern’s reaction to the terror attack, empathy, and solidarity with all Muslims should be a model for all the leaders,” Erdoğan told the conference. He also thanked Ardern and her government for their firm stance against the attack.

In today’s world, unfortunately, this attack that has targeted innocent people will not be the last one. Politicians, in every part of the world, are in a huge race of populism at the expense of deepening discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobia. Using religious and ethnic differences and showing intolerance to the other are unfortunately setting new norms for many populist leaders of our age.

The media, in general, is far from understanding the need to stand against this disruptive political trend as it still uses discriminative language in its coverages. Civil society is active but inefficient to reverse the situation.

That’s why humanity displayed by a 37-year old prime minister in New Zealand is very valuable. At a moment when almost all political leaders in the world are in efforts to increase his or her popularity through polarization and discrimination, her stance makes the difference.

There are so many lessons to be drawn from the tragedy in New Zealand: For the media and the civil society, but most importantly for politicians.

Serkan Demirtaş, New Zealand, mosque attacks