Peace Returns in Christchurch
Voices of support for the victims of a terrorist attack on a mosque in New Zealand have come from numerous circles, including a motorcycle club and “Egg Boy”.
It was still morning when a man dressed in all black and a leather vest with “Mongrel Mob Waikato” on it who was driving a large Harley-Davidson motorcycle slowly pulled into the yard of a mosque in Hamilton, New Zealand, on Friday, March 22. The yard was already full of men wearing traditional headdress and women wearing headscarves who wanted to perform the Friday prayer.
However, among those Muslims were some other large men dressed in black and sporting the Mongrel vest. A large man with tattooed arms appeared a short time later. It was Sonny Fatu, leader of the Mongrel Mob Waikato. This largest biker club in New Zealand, which has about 400 members, were keeping a promise to keep watch over the Muslims who were there for worship services that day.
“We will support and assist our Muslim brothers and sisters for however long they need us,” said Fatu to Asad Mohsin, President of the Waikato Muslim Association. “We have Muslim brothers and sisters within our organization, we have family members who are Muslims.”
Fatu said that he had been contacted by a representative who informed him that some Muslims were worried about the safety of the Friday prayer, and asked if they could be helped to worship in peace. “Of course we would do that. We will not be armed. We are peacefully securing the inner gated perimeter, with other community members, to allow them to feel at ease,” he said.
This support from the Mongrels was in response to a shooting which took place on March 15 Maret in Christchurch. An Australian, Brenton Tarrant, fired semi-automatic weapons at Al-Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque, killing 50 and wounding 50 others. Some have shown their support in the wake of the tragedy in different ways. Black Power, a rival club to the Mongrels, is also giving their support.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern then announced a ban on all types of semi-automatic military-style weapons, assault rifles, and high-capacity ammunition magazines on Thursday, March 21. This new policy will take effect on April 11. “What we’re banning today are the things used in last Friday’s attack,” she said.
Their government is also planning to recall those weapons, estimated to be 1.2-1.5 million in all. “It’s a very bold move,” said Philip Alpers, an academician at the University of Sydney who runs GunPolicy.org, a weapons research institute.
The Mongrels have even replaced their long-standing ‘sieg heil’ greeting—which is associated with Nazi Germany. They replaced it with ‘Mongrel Mob’ in response to the incident.
The impact from the terrorist attack in New Zealand has spread to the neighboring country of Australia. Will Connolly, a 17-year-old from Melbourne, shot to prominence as ‘Egg Boy’ after smashing an egg on the head of Fraser Anning, a senator from Queensland. Anning is known to be hostile towards immigrants. His strong stance has resulted in him being accused of being a racist and supportive of fascism.
In August 2018, Anning created a stir when giving a speech in the Australian Senate by calling for a “final solution” for Muslim immigrants. His choice of words reminded people of Adolf Hitler described his plan, which culminated in the Holocaust. Anning refused to apologize for his words, claiming he had no intent to refer to the Nazi plan.
“We will support and assist our Muslim brothers and sisters for however long they need us,” said Fatu to Asad Mohsin, President of the Waikato Muslim Association.
Anning caused more controversy due to his comments on the terrorist attack in Christchurch. A few hours after the tragedy, he released a statement that, “While Muslims may be the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators.” He added that, “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
This statement was widely denounced. “Remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration issues are disgusting,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The following day, Anning gave a speech in front of his supporters in Moorabbin, Melbourne. Will Connolly stood very close to him, then used his right hand to crack an egg on the back of his Anning’s head, while recording his action on a cellular phone he was holding in his left hand.
Anning responded by slapping Connolly in the face. The situation deteriorated and several people attempted to calm Anning. Others physically restrained Connolly. The youth was questioned by police and later released. A Victoria Police Department spokesman said they are going to investigate the case.
After being released by the police, Connolly sent a message on Twitter. He said that, “This was the moment when I felt so proud to exist as a human being. Muslims are not terrorists and terrorism has no religion. All those who consider Muslims a terrorist community, have empty heads like Anning.” His tweet used the hashtags #EggBoy and #eggAnning.
The police referred to Connolly’s action as assault, but he is being celebrated on the Internet. He has become popularly known as ‘Egg Boy’ and dubbed a hero. The number of his followers on Instagram has jumped to over 340,000 in just two days. He also received over 30,000 messages of praise from around the world, including from the Netherlands, Morocco and Egypt. The hashtag #Eggboy became the top trending topic in Egypt. “You are a hero, we are proud of you, greetings from Libya,” wrote one Twitter user.
Twitter account Caner Taslaman offered him a free trip to Turkey. “Dear eggboy. I am a philosophy professor in Turkey. We really appreciate what you did. I will pay for tickets, and 10 days in a 5-star hotel (wherever you want in Turkey) Be our guest in Turkey,” wrote Taslaman.
Connolly also received offers of free lifetime concerts from some Australian bands, such as Hilltop Hoods and Violent Soho. His action has inspired some memes and artwork, including a poster of a Connolly ‘Egg Boy’ t-shirt by Sebastian White.
At the same time, funds are being raised on a GoFundMe page to help fund Connolly’s legal defense and to buy him more eggs. Two days after the campaign began on Tuesday, March 19, US$40,000 had been raised, exceeding the US$20,000 target. Connolly plans to allocate most of those donations to the victims of the Christchurch attack.
“I just want to thank everyone for the support and love from all around the globe its been overwhelming since the day, don’t forget guys we are all in this together we stand against racism in any form or shape. Thank you.” This was Connolly’s final tweet before his account was suspended by Twitter.
The strong negative reaction in the social media has not changed Fraser Anning’s stance. “He got a slap across the face, which is what his mother should have given him long ago, because he’s been misbehaving badly,” he said to reporters. The senator also refused to apologize for his comments.
An online petition was created on Change.org, urging Anning be kicked out of the Australian Parliament. As of Sunday, March 17, the petition had received more than a million signatures. Sally Rugg, Executive Director of Change.org said that this is not only the petition with the most signatures since the platform was created, but also the one which grew the fastest. Nearly 250,000 accounts registered in the first 18 hours, later reaching a million in two days. Dr. Ahmad, who came up with the idea for the petition, said that the level of support “shows that Australians don’t tolerate extreme hate speech and the attitude that Senator Anning has displayed.”