We Stand in Solidarity with Muslim Communities in Hong Kong and New Zealand
The Women’s Studies Research Centre (WSRC) and the Gender Studies Programme (GSP) at the University of Hong Kong join communities around the world in mourning the tragic loss of 50 lives and injuries to scores of other men, women and children at the hands of a white supremacist who terrorised people on account of their faith this past Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand. We stand together with all of our Muslim brothers and sisters and all other people of conscience reeling from these events to process this unconscionable act of violence, perpetrated in the most horrific manner, in a sanctuary of religious worship against people gathering in peaceful prayer. In our collective grief, let us remember that such attacks neither occur in a vacuum, nor are they merely the actions of lone and hateful individuals. Rather, acts of racial and religious discrimination, hatred and violence foment in contexts which permit, tolerate, facilitate and even encourage hatred.
Although we may think that such acts would never occur here in Hong Kong, we need to open our eyes to what these growing incidents of mass violence targeting particular communities of colour and faith reveal. Hate knows no boundaries – as is clear from the fact that an Australian man took his hate to New Zealand and terrorised this community. By and large, Hong Kong is a peaceful society which has not experienced such violent attacks in this form. However, as a community, we have a lot of work to do. Acts of discrimination, bullying and racial and religious vilification occur routinely throughout Hong Kong. Hong Kong is not free from the hallmarks for exclusion, discrimination, and hatred, which are on the rise. While we can never know with certainty when these cumulative acts of micro-aggression might spill over into organised violent attacks against innocent people, studies show that hate crimes rise when we collectively tolerate or encourage prejudice and discrimination. In these times, it is on EACH OF US individually but also collectively, in our families, in our neighbourhoods, our schools, universities, workplaces and our society as a whole, to reflect, contemplate and ask, ‘what can we do to guard against and counter the spread of hatred’? What happens when we refuse to call out or wilfully ignore falsehoods, discriminatory acts and the rhetoric of hate around us? Does our silence about the prevalence of bigotry and discrimination in Hong Kong perpetuate that oppression? Have we paused to consider how our silence renders us complicit in these structures? Most importantly, how do we collectively cultivate spaces that are safe for conversation and reflection on these issues? How can we better support each other, as communities bound by our shared humanity that sees us in all our representations, of faith, colour, and so much more? As history shows, we are at a critical crossroads but we have been here before and can learn from past mistakes. Hate and discrimination tear away at the fabric of peaceful society, and each of us has the responsibility and the ability to counter and eradicate their influence. Attacks against Muslims and Islam are attacks on all of us. It is on us to stand in solidarity and create a culture of respect and belonging. We wield tremendous power and by working together, we can extinguish the fire of hatred by cutting off the very oxygen that fuels it. The WSRC and GSP offer our support to Muslim students, staff and the broader community affected by this tragedy at HKU. We are here to listen, help organize, or to communicate academic or other needs if necessary. If you require support or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. We stand with the victims in New Zealand, and we stand with our Muslim community at HKU.
Puja Kapai, Associate Professor of Law and Convenor, WSRC on behalf of the Women’s Studies Research Centre and Gender Studies Programme, HKU