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Today, I'm a New Zealander

17 220 229
23.03.2019

As Jacinda Ardern walked up to the microphone, the weight of the world seemed to fall squarely on her shoulders.

"Asalamu alaikum!" New Zealand's prime minister uttered the universal Islamic greeting with grace and familiarity in front of thousands of mourners in attendance and millions more glued to TV screens. At this very moment, exactly one week after 50 of her countrymen and women were massacred, she didn't push Islam to the margins and away from the cameras, but deliberately chose to bring it alongside her for the whole world to see.

She collected her breath, paused while everybody waited for her subsequent words and then read a saying of Prophet Muhammad.

"According to Prophet Mohammed - salla Allahu alayhi wa salaam (peace be upon him) - the believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels pain," she said. "New Zealand mourns with you, we are one."

Her message was clear. Islam is neither the "other" nor the "invader". Islam is New Zealand and those adhering to it, departed or alive, are at home in this country.

Over the previous week, Ardern had donned hijab while grieving alongside mourning families, listened attentively while attending recovering mosques, and most potently,........

© Al Jazeera