Reflections on the New Zealand Mosque Shootings

On behalf of the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, we extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families, and our sympathy, support, and love for the Muslim community in New Zealand and around the globe.

As we learn the details of the March 15thshooting that killed 49 worshippers and wounded many others in two Christchurch mosques, we may feel shocked, angry, and sad. A house of worship is supposed to be a sanctuary, a refuge for prayer, reflection, and community comfort. That the alleged gunman would broadcast live footage of the mass murder on social media makes the situation even more disturbing and cruel.

We must not allow these horrifying events to spawn further acts of Islamophobia, White supremacy, or violence. We must counter the narratives of hate and intolerance with the messages of acceptance and respect for the dignity and worth of all people, regardless of religion, ethnicity, refugee status, or other social identity affiliation. We must identify people at risk of committing violence and intervene in a compassionate way to prevent such atrocities. We may not have all the answers, but inaction is not an option. Even small acts of kindness, respect, awareness, compassion and caring may have powerful effects.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 from 9:00 am – 4:30 pm, our School in partnership with the FAU Brain Institute and the FAU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, will host the 2019 Violence Summit, which offers a series of workshops discussing violence from different perspectives.  Our keynote speaker is Dr. Jeremy Richman, Yale University Department of Psychiatry and father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim, Avielle Richman.

We are honored to have such a strong showing of community support at this sold-out event. Our time together tomorrow could be an important step as we work together to tackle this complex issue and to create a community where diversity is not only embraced – but celebrated.


Naelys Luna, PhD
Professor and Director
Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work