OBEID KAIFO: The New Zealand massacre illustrates the plight of Muslims in Aurora, and around the globe


I’m angry and shaken to my core.

After watching the horrific live stream of the New Zealand mosque attack, I know that March 15, 2019 will be a day never forgotten

How short life is, how heartless and hate filled some people can be.

Since 9/11 every Muslim in the United States, has feared a March 15th. Muslims have worked very hard for decades to share who they are as a community and as individuals, particularly in mosques, Muslim homes and places of work. We do this in order to express who we really are as a people and individuals.

We are so very much unlike how the news media has wrongly portrayed us, as instigators of violence. In reality, the vast majority of Muslims are the complete opposite.

Yet, a white supremacist, right-wing radical thinks he is compelled to invade the House of God to commit mass murder of purely innocent people. In his warped, sick mind, he thinks this is a justified act. And he is shameless, so much so that he live-streamed his attack on innocent Muslims.

Half a world away, the New Zealand Mosque attack is so devastating and numbing  because most Muslims here in the United States would have thought such an attack was much more likely here than a place like New Zealand.

The perpetuation of violence in this country, and particularly mass shootings from the Las Vegas shooting to the church shootings and most recently the Tree of life shooting, are a red-flag for pending violence against local Muslims.

There is no doubt that President Donald Trump has worked to instigate and perpetuate a country rife with violent division and one that especially singles out Muslims for an abusive and unfair segregation from American life.

There is so much most people don’t understand about us. Christians go to church on Sundays. Jews go to temple on Saturdays. Muslims attend prayers on Fridays. But we all congregate in the worship of God. We all peacefully and bring people together for one day, to nourish the soul and finds ways to help out in our communities.

The March 15 attack is especially painful in that it happened in a place as non-violent as New Zealand. Clearly, white supremacy, hate and the potential for heinous violence is everywhere.

The attack is also keen to me, a Syrian American. March 15 is also the anniversary of Syrians gaining the courage to fight for their freedoms. That fight  has a resulted in Syrians suffering from one of the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.

I’ve lost family members in the crisis in Syria. I have seen video of Syrian torture, killings and vast devastation, beyond anyone’s imagination in the last eight years of countless videos of chaos.

But it was capped by what I saw from the New Zealand mosque shooting. It is too much violence to understand. I cannot cry. I can only sustain my shock. It is unspeakable.

There will be those who say that unfortunately this is the new normal. I categorically reject this notion.

Yes times of changed, and nobody would know this better than a millennial like myself, but the wanton and barbaric killing of innocents can never be normal.

The question is now, is how do we move forward from one terrorist attack to another, from shooting to another? Why would we?

The question is now, how do we, as Americans move forward, to ensure this never happens to Muslim Americans?

Connect with Muslims at your place of work, Muslims in your neighborhood, at your school and at the grocery store. Show them, don’t just tell them, that you stand up for their rights and for justice.

If you’re Muslim don’t allow monsters of evil make you fall into victimhood, intimidation and fear. It’s what they want.

We live in this country under life, liberty and the pursuit happiness, but it only means something if we really live that way.

Obeid Kaifo is an Aurora resident and graduate of Overland High School. He and his family have long owned and operated a restaurant on Capitol Hill in Denver.