When the 2017 general elections in New Zealand put Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern in the office of Prime Minister, she established a world record by becoming the youngest female elected as Head of Government for a nation. That might have been enough to remember her by trivia, but then she also became the second female head of government (following the late Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan) to give birth while in office. Then came the tragic shooting incident at two Christchurch mosques over a week ago, where New Zealand and the world saw just how inspiring and compassionate a leader one Jacinda Ardern can be.
One of the leading nations in the Arab world certainly noticed according to CNN. On the evening of Friday, March 22, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, was illuminated by the image of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The projected photo had been taken from the “national day of reflection” that took place in Christchurch earlier that day, where Ardern, dressed solemnly with a hijab (headscarf), embraced one of the Muslim survivors of the violent mass shooting in the city that killed 50 worshippers at the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques.
On his official Twitter page Sheik Mohammed, Prime Minister of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, captioned the image of Ardern on the Burj Khalifa, located within the city, with a message of gratitude for the sincere empathy she showed for the victims of the incident, their families, and all Muslims in New Zealand. “Thank you PM @jacindaardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world,” he wrote.
Standing at 2,723 feet high, the Burj Khalifa is easily visible for extreme distances, along with whatever image is projected on its facades. The photo of Jacinda Ardern comforting a Christchurch survivor was accompanied by the word “Peace” written in Muslim and Arabic, in a poignant call for something that has long been desired yet remains elusive in the world.
Following the shootings at Christchurch, Prime Minister Ardern has taken steps to review the existing gun laws for New Zealand, and pledged her government to strengthen these regulations following what was perceived as a weakness that allowed firearms such as the ones used in the tragedy. She also opened a condolence book for the victims in Wellington, with herself as its first signatory. The praise from Dubai’s Sheik Mohammed is but the latest of accolades being given now in honor of Ardern and her leadership.
Image from Sydney Morning Herald