On Friday, March 15, at least 49 Muslim people were killed by a terrorist who targeted two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. According to Fast Company, dozens of other mosque attendees are suffering serious injuries from the attack; as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden noted, many of the victims were refugees, migrants, and children. She called the attack “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
Already, relief groups have stepped in to help provide solace and healing for a grieving community. And while most of us can donate money, supplies, and time to the cause in and outside of the area, there are several other ways you can help those affected by the attack, whether by helping to take care of their daily essentials or working to help rid the world of anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as racism, xenophobia, and hateful speech.
Here are just a few of the ways you can act now and get involved to help bring those affected in the wake of the shootings some sort of comfort and relief.
Donate to a good cause
There are several relief groups taking donations in an effort to aid those still dealing with the aftereffects of the shooting.
For those outside of the area looking to offer monetary support, the New Zealand-based crowdfunding platform Givealittle is currently hosting a campaign where you can donate to victims. Given the rush to donate, the site may load slowly, so it will likely require multiple retries to access.
Similarly, LaunchGood has posted its United for Christchurch Mosque Shootings donations page, where people have donated nearly $200,000 to assist victims and their families. The verified donation page will take funds and distribute them in partnership with NZIIC (New Zealand Islamic Information Center) to ensure the money goes where it's supposed to.
The Muslim charity organization Penny Appeal has also taken to Facebook with a fundraiser that's taking donations via its verified page.
Help reunite people with their loved ones
It's been extremely difficult for some to find their way back to their loved ones following the attack, and as such members of the community have had difficulty connecting with their families. New Zealand authorities have been relying on the Family Links website to help the friends, family, and loved ones of those affected by the attack find anyone who may be missing. The site can also be used to help register yourself with the "I am alive" status to make sure anyone who comes calling knows that you're doing OK.
If you’re not a member of the Muslim community, commit to being a good ally
It’s crucial to combat intolerance and hateful rhetoric, whether it spreads across social media or by individuals looking to disseminate hate speech in the real world.
Report hateful tweets, Facebook posts, and other forms of hate speech you see online; while many social media platforms have been rightfully criticized for their slow work in combating hate speech, holding both the companies and the individual posters accountable will add pressure for change.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, author of Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age and creator of MuslimGirl.com, took to Twitter with the helpful reminder to "be alert" if you witness public harassment, noting that's the time when allies should show their "love, support, and action."
Al-Khatahtbeh created a helpful, three-step video to help readers and potential allies that outlines actions they can take to show up for both Muslim women and their loved ones, noting that "Muslim women don't need saving." But, like the rest of those affected in the recent shooting, they and the rest of the community do need and deserve support.
It's also important to "feel your privilege," according to MuslimGirl contributor and Huffington Post author Zoya Qamar. Understand its role in enriching and improving others' lives.
"Understand what your privilege entails and what that shared privilege with others has enabled," explains Qamar. "I have to feel my race everyday. Feel yours, and feel and unpack the privilege that accompanies it."
Put simply, as Qamar and others have stated, recognize what your identity has allowed for you each and every day and begin using it to make a difference for others, no matter if it's in small ways like shutting down online trolls or simply acknowledging that you're going to hold yourself accountable and be a better person.
Educating yourself on the Muslim faith and even joining in to learn more about their beliefs is a great way to ally yourself with someone who may really need it.
“Getting to know someone who is Muslim, that’s the best way to be more educated. Maybe you have a neighbor or coworker, or someone at your children’s school who is Muslim. Maybe go and visit a mosque or attend an event. It’s easier to understand people when you interact with them. Muslims are very welcoming. I feel that’s a very powerful way of being an advocate," said Rania Ayoub, director of public relations at the Muslim Educational Trust.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations sums it up best.
"By publicly and vocally speaking about the American Muslim children and families they know, allies—leaders as well as everyday people who are not American Muslims themselves—have done an enormous amount to promote understanding of American Muslims’ lives," the organization explains.
Our hearts are with the Muslim community and all of those affected by today’s tragedy in New Zealand. We stand against faith-based violence. You can counter hate at muslimadvocates.org