How New Zealand’s Prime Minister Is Showing The World What True Leadership Is
By Muhammed Aladdin
Last Friday, a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand taking the lives of at least 50 people and injuring more. People from across the globe watched in shock as the terrorist streamed his rampage online. The massacre has been dubbed ‘the worst in New Zealand’s history’, and it would have sent the island-nation into a downward spiral of hate if it was not for the wise leadership of Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister.
In 2017, Jacinda Ardern became the country’s youngest prime minister at the age of 38; during that time, stories of her giving birth at the office and taking her baby to the United Nations general assembly have made her an overnight sensation. She became an icon of the feminist movement and empowered millions of young girls all over the world. However, until last Friday, her political career did not contain any major crises; in other words, it was hard to tell her true essence.
Unfortunately, the terrorist attack at the two mosques has put the young prime minister to the test. Under these horrific circumstances, she immediately came out to the world, giving the grieving a language to talk about the unspeakable, vocalizing the horror of the events. Jacinda Ardern gave out as much information as possible to the public and was quick to call the attacks ‘an act of terror’, something many major media outlets have been avoiding for hours.
“They are us,” she firmly stated during the press conference, referring to New Zealand’s Muslim community. In three simple words, Ardern explained to her people that Muslims living among them are not a different other, but an integral part of the country’s community. “Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it,” she continued.
New Zealand’s prime minister looked all terrorists in the eye, rejecting and condemning all hateful acts, and that the values of coexistence, tolerance, and acceptance would remain unshaken. It was not all talk, for Ardern promised the public that the loose gun laws of New Zealand would change as well, bringing an end to unlicensed firearms on the streets.
Few moments of silence followed before she spoke to the victims and their loved ones promising that the government would pay for funeral arrangements and any required financial assistance.
On the next day, Ardern gathered the leaders of parties from across the political spectrum and flew from Wellington to Christchurch. There, she met the leaders of the Islamic community and the loved ones of the fallen; the latter she hugged with tears in her eyes, showing love and compassion.
Pictures of her hugging members of the victims’ family wearing hijab have been circulating on social media; a counter to images of the unremorseful terrorist who even after incarceration flashed signs of empowerment to white supremacists.
The true essence of Jacinda Ardern was there for the whole world to see and hopefully learn from. She condemned the act calling it for what it really is and showed compassion to the Muslim community of New Zealand, earning the respect of her people and the world.