Remember this image? Two years ago members of the far-right English Defense League took to the streets of Birmingham to express their various forms of displaced rage. At one stage about 20 of them surrounded a woman in a hijab. That was when Saffiyah Khan stepped in. The city’s local MP summed it all up rather gloriously: “Who looks like they have power here – the real Brummy on the left or the EDL who migrated for the day to our city and failed to assimilate?”
An equally iconic image is that of Danuta Danielsson taking a swipe at a young member of the Nordic Reich Party in 1985. Danielsson was a Polish-Jewish immigrant whose mother had been interned in a concentration camp during World War II. The look on her face says it all. She’s no thug, not by any stretch of the imagination, but she’s so enraged by these creeps that she can’t help herself. The Swedes loved this image so much they declared 13th April ‘Danuta Day’. A statue was made in her honour and the Photographic Historical Society of Sweden declared this image ‘Picture of the Century’.
The people of Aotearoa/NZ responded in multiple ways to the attacks at the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre. There were huge public gatherings; vigils; thousands wearing headscarves in solidarity; hakas performed all over the country; gang members providing security during prayers; sports events and concerts cancelled; floral tributes outside the Botanic Gardens; Christians going to mosques to share worship; websites taken down; laws changed; and millions of dollars collected for the victims’ whānau. And this: a website to help the community make sure it never happens again.
The massacre in Christchurch changed everything. We ourselves have changed. But sooner or later we’ll move on. Before we do, let’s ask ourselves one huge question: What can we do to make sure this never happens again? We want everybody to feel safe and welcome in this country. So what can we do to identify, monitor and help those whose minds are stuck in feedback loops of anger and hatred? One of Paparoa’s main goals is to identify members of the far right. Supporters have sent in a huge collection of files and photographs, and the more we have the more we are given. But that’s only half the job. We also need to reach out to these people and look for ways we can encourage them to change. Please contact us if you are willing to help in this work or if you want to hand in your swastika. All discussions will be private and confidential – that’s a promise.