Sasya Wreksono: We mourn, reflect and face up to NZ’s ‘fragment of darkness’

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"Standing beside our Muslim brothers and sisters" ... a placard at the Aotea Square vigil on Saturday. Image: David Robie/PMC
“Standing beside our Muslim brothers and sisters” … a placard at the Aotea Square vigil on Saturday. Image: David Robie/PMC

OPINION: By Sasya Wreksono of the Pacific Media Centre

In the 20 years I’ve lived in New Zealand since I was little, I’ve never felt unsafe or been discriminated against for being an immigrant or for my beliefs as a Muslim. I’ve always felt grateful for being able to live in a country where people are generally kind, warm and understanding.

Going on road trips with my family around the country, if we couldn’t pray at a mosque we would pray where we could – at train stations, in fields, on the side of the road. While working on set or on location I would pray out in the open.

No one would ever bat an eye.

READ MORE: ‘Everyone was in chaos’ – mother, daughter fled from mosque

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Sasya Wreksono … “we can ensure something like this never happens again.” Image: FB

But just because I’ve never personally experienced discrimination here, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. As much as I love New Zealand and as amazing as it is, it’s far from perfect – because nothing is.

This is a country that was built on colonialism, that disregards its native Te Reo Māori language as inferior and that scorns immigrants for rising house prices and decreasing job opportunities.

This little country of ours is known around the world for being a clean, green, warm and welcoming safe haven. While I myself have never experienced otherwise, perhaps underneath the surface there’s always been a fragment of darkness that’s now manifested in the ugliest way imaginable – a piece we clearly now need to acknowledge and change.

Thank you to my fellow Kiwis for their outpouring of support for the Muslim community, especially for those directly affected. We mourn, but we should also reflect and figure out how we can ensure something like this never happens again.

What happened on Friday was appallingly, disgustingly atrocious. While we undoubtedly need to hold alt-right politicians and commentators around the West accountable for pushing the rhetoric of white supremacy and Islamophobia, in turn cultivating bigotry and hatred, we can still do something here at home.

Celebrate our similarities
We need to acknowledge our history and celebrate our similarities, not our differences.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji-un. May Allah SWT grant Jannat ul-Firdaus for our Muslim brothers and sisters who lost their lives, and inshaAllah their loved ones are granted love, warmth and sabr [“perseverance”].

Sasya Wreksono is a New Zealand filmmaker from an Indonesian family who migrated many years ago to this country to make Auckland their home. She is a screen production graduate from Auckland University of Technology. This commentary was originally published on her Facebook account and has been republished by the Pacific Media Centre with her permission.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I’m afraid in our rush to identify “villains” and baddies of the racist and alt-Right variety we begin to become a mirror image of intolerance, of reactionary views upon loosely identified groups. That is that we push attitudes and debate to the extremes.

    You spent years amongst our vast majority of people feeling safe to practice your faith as you should. I’d contend that the same extreme elements have been here all along, no more or less. The vast majority of us have not changed as we saw from the solidarity and grief. Let’s not begin a hunt amongst the shadows, let’s bathe in the light.

    • So you’re being an apologist for the alt.right now Nick? You cannot tolerate hate groups. Its one of the goddamn reason we dont allow ISIS members to come to NZ. Would you allow ISIS or Al Quaeda to send representatives to NZ.

      Well, would you?

    • That is that we push attitudes and debate to the extremes.

      Nick, when is the last time you debated with a far-right winger on Kiwiblog, Whaleoil, any number of alt.right websites, or even debated with someone on Twitter, Facebook, et al?

      People keep saying we should “debate” them.

      I see precious little of that. But lots of navel-gazing in echo chambers like TDB.

      That’s not debate.

  2. I’m afraid in our rush to identify “villains” and baddies of the racist and alt-Right variety we begin to become a mirror image of intolerance, of reactionary views upon loosely identified groups. That is that we push attitudes and debate to the extremes.

    What absolute RUBBISH!

    Are you for real? Are you suggesting we ignore the alt-right? For god sakes, we’re all telling ourselves and each other to CALL OUT racism, bigotry, islamophobia, misogyny, and other alt-right, white-power comments and you’re suggesting the contrary, that we sit and do nothing?

    You really do seem to be white-washing.

    I’d like to know how you would confront white supremacist bigotry. What do you recommend we do? I look forward to your constructive suggestions. (I’m assuming you oppose white supremacists, nationalists, and the alt-right in general?)

  3. Thank you, Ms Wreksono, for standing up and speaking out. Only when we all raise our voices against alt-right bigotry will they begin to realise that their violence will achieve the exact opposite of what they are wanting: more conflict between races, ethnic groups, religions, etc.

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