Ayesha Hazarika is a British political commentator, writer and former political adviser. The opinions in this article belong to the author. View more opinion articles on CNN.
(CNN)When I woke up Friday morning to the news of the massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, I felt sick. But sadly, not entirely surprised. I had been dreading this kind of violence happening, although I would have never imagined this kind of scale — 49 Muslim men, women and children killed in cold blood with such clinical, methodical precision and filmed for social media.
Islamophobia is on the rise and has been for some time. Muslims have been demonized, dehumanized and scapegoated on an industrial scale by society since 9/11. No other group has been punished for the sins of the father in such a systematic and accepted way. Politicians, commentators, influencers and the media on the right have waged a war against Muslims that has become normalized. How the far right is adopting the ISIS global modelThe most powerful man on the planet, President Donald Trump, has sought to ban them from entering the United States. British prime minister hopeful and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made “jokes” insulting Muslim women, saying they looked like letter boxes. After those comments, Tell Mama, an organization that records Muslim hate incidents, reported that attacks on Muslim women went up. They often take the form of pulling off a woman’s headscarf, especially when she’s taking her children to and from school. Imagine what that does to a young frightened and confused Muslim child? We have respected high-profile commentators who say that Islamophobia doesn’t exist and imply that “they” have brought it on themselves because of terrorism. Read MoreJUST WATCHEDPrime Minister: One of New Zealand’s darkest daysReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
Prime Minister: One of New Zealand’s darkest days 02:06This is like saying that because of this atrocity, every white 28-year-old man should now be on a watch list or face prejudice. It’s a nonsensical, primitive argument. Yet one that elites in powerful positions repeat, even though they should know better. The trope that all Muslims are somehow predisposed to violence or terrorism is dangerous and wrong. Most Muslims — particularly immigrants — keep their heads down, want a quiet, peaceful life and want to stay out of trouble. I know this because I am Muslim and know our community. We are not out to cause trouble. We don’t come to “invade”; we come to make a better life for ourselves. How the Christchurch terrorist attack was made for social mediaWe run your convenience store, drive your cabs, feed you late-night food when you’ve had a drink or look after you when you’re ill. We serve our communities. Yet we have become the victims of harassment, hatred and now terrorism. Attacks — verbal and physical — on Muslims are par for the course. But society doesn’t seem to care. Our lives and pain don’t seem to matter as much because we are seen as second-class citizens or “bad people.”I wept Friday on “CNN Talk,” thinking about the sadness of it all. It has been a dark day. But if there is any light, it was the outpouring of grief from people of all backgrounds around the world who sent in messages of solidarity and kindness. If we can take one lesson from the horror of Christchurch, we have to stop this hate and see Muslims as human beings, just like anyone else.