INDEPENDENT NEWS

United Force Against Racial Harassment

Published: Thu 27 Sep 2001 06:20 PM
OFFICE OF THE RACE RELATIONS CONCILIATOR
TE TARI WHAKAWHANAUNGA-A-IWI
Press Release: Statement from the Auckland Muslim Community ¡V 27 September 2001
United Force Against Racial Harassment
A new coalition has been forged to search for solutions to the problems being experienced by Muslim people and other ethnic minorities in New Zealand in the aftermath of the recent attacks in New York.
Muslim community leaders said that they had welcomed the opportunity to meet with Race Relations Conciliator Gregory Fortuin and representatives from the Office of Ethnic Affairs today to discuss the harassment that their community has suffered since 11 September.
Excessive media coverage linking terrorism with Islam has left the Muslim community having to cope with:
„h Muslim school children being attacked because of their clothing and singled out to justify their religious and cultural beliefs
„h An increase in physical abuse especially to young girls and women
„h Telephone harassment
„h Deterioration of neighbourhood relations as some New Zealanders have developed greater fear and anxiety toward Muslims
Negative behaviour toward Muslims is based on fear and lack of information about Islam. To combat negative stereotyping and provide the Muslim community with a voice, the community leaders committed to working with the Offices of Race Relations and Ethnic Affairs.
Planned work includes:
„h The development of resource material on ¡§What is Islam?¡¨
„h The creation of a list of volunteers who will be available for speaking to schools and community groups
„h The publicising of common beliefs shared by different religions - such as tolerance and the value of all living things
„h Liaison work with the Police to promote safer communities
The Muslim community leaders said that they wanted to stress that New Zealanders are generally good hearted, open-minded people who show understanding and tolerance. They wanted to express gratitude for the many acts of kindness shown by some people through cards and flowers left at Ponsonby mosque. They were touched by invitations to share food and exchange views.
The Meeting Group also reiterated their sorrow for the victims of the terrible crimes committed in New York and expressed their condolences to the families of the victims.
The Muslim community leaders said that the meeting concluded positively with the commitment of the Meeting Group to work together towards peaceful and harmonious race relations in New Zealand.
For further information please contact Race Relations Conciliator Gregory Fortuin on 021 465 254, Firoz Patel (Secretary of Muslim Association, Auckland) on 021 222 4179 or Uzair Ceyddique (Afghanistani spokesperson, Auckland) on 025 895 482
3rd Floor, Club Med House, (Cnr. Queen and Durham Sts) 175 Queen St,
P.O.Box 105-102, Auckland Central, Ph. (09) 307 2352, Fax (09) 377 0123
Papa Tuatoru, Te Whare o Club Med, 175 te Ara o Queen, (i te kokonga o nga Ara of Queen me Durham),
Pouaka Poutapeta 105-102, Tamaki-makau-rau, Waea (09) 307 2352, Waea Whakaahua (09) 377 0123

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