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We must stand up to hatred that leads to tragedies like the New Zealand shooting

Op-Ed by Dr. Imam Ossama Bahloul (Tennessean March 15, 2019)


Remember, it is okay to disagree, it is not okay to hate those you disagree with simply for the fact that they think or believe differently. Ossama Bahloul, PhD, is the imam of the Islamic Center of Nashville.

It is with a heavy heart and much sorrow that we must give our final wishes of peace, to our brothers and sisters who were massacred in New Zealand on Friday. Since those first shots were fired during Friday prayers, journalists and pundits have provided us with the horrific details, and what motivated these people; likewise, they have discussed right wing extremism/terrorism, gun control and hate. These are important subjects; however, we also need to discuss the grief, loss, pain, anger and fear that we are experiencing in the aftermath of this tragedy and how to manage and process our feelings.

Destroying hatred requires goodness Today, our collective community are in mourning. We pray for and honor the fallen men, women and children. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore that hateful ideologies led to this coordinated mass violence toward the Muslim community in Christchurch. Racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are all equally forms of hatred. They are branches of the same tree. You can cut or trim back any branch, but it will regrow unless the entire tree is chopped down. Destroying hatred does not require violence, instead it requires goodness. "Good and Evil deeds are not alike. Requite evil with good, and he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend. But none will attain this save those who endure with fortitude and are greatly favored by God." (Quran 41: 34-35) We must not reciprocate hate with hate. We must work collectively to extinguish all forms of hatred and create an inclusive society.