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Home World 'Inappropriate, insensitive': Film on Christchurch mosque attacks angers members of Muslim community

‘Inappropriate, insensitive’: Film on Christchurch mosque attacks angers members of Muslim community

A brand new movie concerning the 2019 Christchurch terror attacks has been criticised by members of New Zealand’s Muslim community, who say the movie’s narrative has the fallacious focus on white voices and the ‘White Saviour narrative’. 

According to stories in US-based leisure news shops, a movie is being produced in New Zealand by Kiwi director Andrew Niccol, with Australian actress Rose Byrne to be solid because the central character of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

The movie’s producers mentioned it has been developed in session with members of Canterbury’s Muslim community.

But members of the community mentioned they weren’t conscious of the movie’s manufacturing and have criticised the emphasis on New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, relatively than the Muslim community. 

“It’s frustrating that this was tragedy that happened to the Muslim community and yet the story is starting a week after,” mentioned Anjum Rahman from The Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand.

“And it feels very much like we are props in someone else’s story. That is not appropriate for a tragedy of this nature. And I would really urge the producers to rethink their approach.”

She mentioned community-based efforts to focus on racism and white supremacist sentiments ought to proceed, noting that the risk nonetheless exists and movie portrayals can injury efforts to construct social cohesion. 

“It is good that the government has formed a board to provide support to the victims. There is some movement. But this is part of a wider narrative [of white supremacist views].

“We simply had two younger Japanese individuals overwhelmed up in Christchurch by two younger white males. A pair of weeks in the past, within the news there was a white supremacist video that was threatening to the Maori community.

“So there is still a lot of work to be done. And we can’t forget what history is – or minimise, or pretend it is not there, while we tell heroic stories.”

The movie is entitled They Are Us, a phrase Ms Ardern used within the aftermath of the shootings, which killed 51 individuals and injured many extra.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveils a plaque at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch on 24 September 2020.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveils a plaque on the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch on 24 September 2020.


Ms Ardern has distanced herself from the film, releasing an announcement saying “the prime minister and the government have no involvement in the film”.

Scholar Guled Mire, a Somali-born Muslim refugee raised in New Zealand, mentioned the entire imaginative and prescient of the movie is problematic and offensive. 

“This othering narrative, we ask who is ‘they’, and who is ‘us’? 

“We nonetheless have not even talked about these households who’re struggling. Can we speak concerning the bravery, the heroism that occurred within the Muslim community, if such a movie had been to ever happen?”

“Some really feel that maybe it’s even too quickly for a movie as a result of we’re nonetheless feeling the results from that day.”

He said this Hollywood film depiction does nothing to tackle the issue of racism or white supremacist views in New Zealand. 

“We have purchased into this concept that we’re not as racist as Australia or US, so when an assault like Christchurch occurred we had been all shocked. We had been all shocked as a result of we dwelling in full denial about life in New Zealand.

“And I think something like this feeds into a false depiction of who we are as a country. Here in the US when I talk to people [from New Zealand], all they want to talk about is Jacinda Ardern.

“And to have a film like this in Hollywood. But I do not want that gaslighting. Nobody wants that.

New Zealanders place flowers outside the Al-Noor Mosque on second anniversary of the 2019 attacks.

New Zealanders place flowers exterior the Al-Noor Mosque on second anniversary of the 2019 attacks.


“The rest of the world deserves to hear the reality of daily life in New Zealand.”

Aya Al-Umari, whose brother Hussein was murdered within the assault, mentioned it was insensitive, tweeting the basic Kiwi-ism “Yeah nah”.

Auckland-raised journalist Mohamed Hassan mentioned the film appeared to centre on Ms Ardern on the expense of the impacted community.

“You do not get to tell this story. You do not get to turn this into a White Saviour narrative,” he mentioned in a message on Twitter.

“This pain is still fresh and real. This is upsetting, obscene and grotesque.”

Mr Niccol and the movie’s producers mentioned the challenge would focus on a “host of heroes” and is aimed toward being uplifting.  

“They Are Us is not so much about the attack but the response to the attack (and) how an unprecedented act of hate was overcome by an outpouring of love and support,” he’s quoted as saying in leisure news outlet Deadline.

“The film addresses our common humanity, which is why I think it will speak to people around the world.

“It is an instance of how we should always reply when there’s an assault on our fellow human beings.”

The National Islamic Youth Association in New Zealand has started a petition for the film to be “cancelled instantly”. 

The co-chair of NIYA Haris Murtaza said the film is “insensitive” and “tokenistic” in its consultation and portrayal of the Muslim community.

“The shuhadaa’ (martyrs), their households, and the broader sufferer community should be completely consulted and on the coronary heart of any tasks that relate to the March fifteenth terror attacks.

“Entities and individuals should not seek to commercialise or profit from a tragedy that befell our community, neither should such an atrocity be sensationalised.”

In August 2020, Australian man Brenton Tarrant was sentenced to life imprisonment with out parole for finishing up the assault.

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Updated on June 14, 2021 9:02 am

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