Jacinda Ardern: A doyen of humanity
My memory was never sharp, nor was I a brilliant student at school. While going through the Daily Observer last week, a particular news item suddenly made me nostalgic. Nearly 30 years ago one of my poor neighbours, Feroza's toddler boy drowned in a pond at Maizdee Court. Learning of the accident, Feroza took her child to Noakhali General Hospital and two hours later the child died. Hearing the news, my mother along with my eldest sister Sheela and I rushed towards Noakhali Sadar Hospital and hugged Feroza while sharing her agony.
Till today I could not forget the death of the child and the agonising scene of my mother, the victim's mother and my sister. My mother was seen lean and thin and she stood much taller compared to other village women. My mother was not well educated but she was conscious about social manners and responsibilities. She used to help any local women with, whenever they faced a problem. However, she left the mundane world some years ago.
Last week while I stared at the photo and the story of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern--emotionally embracing Muslim women at Christchurch mosque premises--I was overwhelmed with emotion. Two days earlier a fanatic and white supremacist armed with semi-automatic weapons stormed through two mosques in the serene mosques in New Zealand during Friday prayers, killing 50 Muslim devotees and wounding dozens more. Members of the Bangladesh Cricket team narrowly escaped the gruesome massacre as they were about to enter the Al Noor mosque.
After the carnage the New Zealand prime minister termed the incident an act of terror. She remarked the day as a dark day in New Zealand's history. In a social media tweet, she wrote in her message, "That which has happened in Christchurch, is an unnatural and unprecedented terrorist incident. There is no place in New Zealand to commit such an incident. Many of the victims are our immigrants' community members".
In Bangladesh many people were shocked and deeply touched to have seen the recorded live streaming of the killing spree. However, it was the New Zealand PM's humane, secular and unbiased response which will never be forgotten.
On March 22, Jacinda heralded world people by quoting Prophet Muhammad (SM), she said, 'all faiths love, feeling and compassion are bonded in a body with an organ. When a part of the body gets wounded, the entire body can feel the pain. Before meeting at Hagley Park in Christchurch, two minutes solemn silence was observed in memory of Christchurch victims under her instruction. Nearly ten thousand new Zealanders were present during the morning, in which many of the non-Muslim women wore hijab (head scarf) in honour of Muslim women. Women of other communities too wore the Hijab in protest of the heinous incident.
Jacinda took power as Prime Minister of New Zealand at the age of 37 in 2017. She came into the limelight again in world history through her non-violent and humanitarian role that saw 50 people killed and another 50 wounded in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.
After the incident, world leaders lauded her role for the victims and immigrants of New Zealand.
She was born in 1980 in a conservative family in New Zealand. She was elected as the youngest woman member of the parliament in the world history. Jacinda Ardern played a pioneering role to inspire other community women to wear hijab while warding--off fear. She also ensured the security of all Muslims living in New Zealand and also took steps to amend the arms act so that the civilians are barred from procuring lethal military arms. Several organizations also pleaded to give her Noble Prize for her exemplary generosity and courage.
She in hatred did not pronounce the murderer's name. A leading daily of New Zealand, New Zealand Herald said in a report, 'thousands applicants prayed to give noble prize for her contribution towards the Christchurch victims. As she stood up for the rights of Muslims in New Zealand, she is likely to become a potential target for racist and terrorist attack.
Not to forget, In October 2018, Jasinda raised the issue of Xinjiang re-education camps and human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority in China. China has imprisoned more than 1 million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in China's north-western province of Xinjiang in concentration camps, where they are held without charge or any terms of release.
Jasinda Ardern raised concerns over the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. In November 2018, she met with Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi and offered help that New Zealand could give to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
World people perhaps never forgot Syrian three year aged Alan kurdi the tragic scene at the beach of Mediterranean sea. It jolted the world people's morality and feelings. Jacinda thought that the immigrants are all New Zealanders, no terror attack can break their hearts.
The great humanitarian Jacinda Ardern is with the Muslims, while many Muslim countries, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and many African Muslims are compelled to flee their respective countries seeking safety, security and a better life in Europe - Jacinda considered the helpless refugees as her own people - branding the victims as new Zealanders.
Creator rarely sends such an exceptional being. One such great person in the history of Bangladesh is Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The scene of Jacinda donning a hijaab while hugging Muslim women will be etched in our minds for many days to come. In the today's modern world she is a rare humanitarian. On behalf of global refugees and 170 million Bangladeshis' I take my hats-off.
May you live long for even bigger humanitarian causes Jacinda Ardern.
The writer is with The Daily Observer