A year later, New Zealand Muslims still feel unsafe

A woman smiles after laying flowers at the entrance to the Al-Noor mosque on Saturday in Christchurch.

A woman smiles after laying flowers at the entrance to the Al-Noor mosque on Saturday in Christchurch.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Rhetoric of hate is on the rise again, say community members in Christchurch

Aliya Danzeisen rises before dawn every day to hear the news so she can prepare her school-age daughters for any harassment they may face for being Muslim.

“We don’t feel any safer,” the Muslim community leader says, reflecting on the 12 months since the Christchurch mosque attacks, in which a self-declared white supremacist killed 51 Muslims at Friday prayers.

The abuse experienced prior to the attacks on March 15 last year died down immediately after the killings, Ms. Danzeisen said, adding: “It felt the entire New Zealand population was rallying behind us.” But she says it is now on the rise again, a year on from the killings. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern — who received widespread praise for her handling of the aftermath of the massacre — admitted Friday there was “much more” her country could do to tackle white supremacists.

Anjum Rahman, co-founder of the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand said there was an “undercurrent or rhetoric of hate... it isn’t just our community, we see it a lot in online hate (towards) the transgender community. “I wouldn't say it’s specifically just us, but we’re feeling it.”

Ms. Danzeisen, a former corporate lawyer in the U.S. who moved to New Zealand 14 years ago, said she believes the support shown to Muslims in the immediate aftermath of the shooting “surprised those in the fringe supremacist movements”.

“As a result it’s made them more defensive and more vitriolic, they’ve become louder,” she said. The impact spreads beyond New Zealand. At the Al Noor mosque, Jabara Akhter Juti said her family in Bangladesh remain “very concerned about me” since she moved to Christchurch last year with her husband.

The imam at Al Noor, Gamal Fouda, wanted the broader impact of extremism addressed and not just confined to Muslims.

The inquiry into the mosque shootings is due to report back at the end of April.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 8:20:55 PM |

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