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Jacinda Ardern: Our truly global hero

Prime Minister, New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern

Everything about her response to the deadly terror attacks at Chrischurch, last week, deserves a standing ovation. From the moment she called it a terrorist act, a phrase most leaders and media in the Western World reserve for Muslims, I knew the New Zealand prime minister was going to be different. Then she proceeded to say it was one New Zealand’s darkest days and I said to myself “This lady is one shining light”.

But the best of all the wonderful quotes and actions attributed to Ms Jacinda Ardern was her saying that she will never say the terrorists name again because that would amount to giving him the notoriety he sought.

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Indeed it was obvious that notoriety was what he craved when he embarked on a digital age, real-time broadcast of his murderous spree. It is the first time in the history of murderous terrorism that the perpetrator wanted to be seen live, while taking human lives, as if he was flitting a den of flies. By attaching a camera to his helmet to show live, the moments he gunned down scores of innocent worshippers, he obviously wanted to be remembered for being a first in his evil exploit.

This is why I totally agree with New Zealand’s youthful and exemplary leader, that the immediate punishment for this murderer is to make sure nobody remembers his name. In her own words:

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He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety – that is why you will never hear me mention his name,” Ms Ardern said in an emotional address at New Zealand’s parliament.

She also added: “I implore you, speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.”

Her stand is no doubt a commendable act. And equally commendable was how she commiserated with Muslim community in Christchurch by visiting them while wearing a head scarf and identifying fully with them in their pain and misery.

We also saw how Ms Ardem made sure the murderer was taken to court a day after the shooting, though it was a weekend.

But another great move was the prime minister’s vow to change the country’s gun laws. Coming a day after the mosque massacre, it was remarkable that she could embark on such a step when endless rounds of mass shootings in US have failed to make the politicians there strive to make the desired change.

As is usual at such times, other world leaders lined up to condemn the terror attacks and offer their sympathies to New Zealand and in some cases, the Muslim community there. But it’s obvious that Jacinda Ardem stands head and shoulders above other European and American leaders, in her regard for and empathy towards the Muslims in her country, except for Britain’s Theresa May that is.

In fact nothing proves the extent to which the New Zealand PM considers last week’s atrocity as a personal tragedy than the special memorial she joined the country’s Muslim organisations to arrange yesterday in honour of the slain victims of last Friday’s shooting. After calling for a one-minute silence all over the country, to coincide with the time of the massacre, Ms Ardem mobilised thousands of New Zealanders to attend the mosque event.

 

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