North sends its sup­port to cen­tres

The Northland Age - - Local News - By Mike Dins­dale

“This is not New Zea­land and this is not New Zealan­ders. This ha­tred must not be al­lowed to win in this peace­ful coun­try.”

Those were the words from Suhil Musa, Imam for the North­land Mus­lim Com­mu­nity Char­i­ta­ble Trust af­ter Fri­day’s hor­ror at­tack on two mosques in Christchur­ch that left 50 peo­ple dead and dozens in­jured in hos­pi­tal.

Po­lice are keep­ing an eye on Is­lamic cen­tres in North­land and else­where across the coun­try in the wake of yes­ter­day’s deadly Christchur­ch mosque at­tacks. Aus­tralian man Bren­ton Tar­rant has been ar­rested and charged with one count of mur­der over the shoot­ings, but more charges will be laid at his next ap­pear­ance in court.

Vig­ils to hon­our the dead were held through­out the coun­try over the week­end, in­clud­ing in North­land, with up to 2000 gath­er­ing in Whanga¯rei on Sun­day.

Events in the Far North over the week­end in­cluded multi-faith gath­er­ings at Cor­ner­stone Church/Whare Karakia o Manako in Kerik­eri on Fri­day and Kaikohe Chris­tian School on Man­gakahia Rd on Sat­ur­day even­ing.

An­other vigil, called North­land Com­mu­ni­ties Unite, took place at Horo­tutu Park on the Pai­hia wa­ter­front on Sun­day.

Vic­tims of the ter­ror at­tack were re­mem­bered at events around the re­gion, in­clud­ing at the Bay of Is­lands Waka Fes­ti­val on Sat­ur­day where sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple ob­served a minute’s si­lence.

Shortly af­ter the at­tack North­land po­lice con­tacted Mus­lim lead­ers in the re­gion as­sur­ing them that po­lice would be do­ing ev­ery­thing they could to pro­tect their com­mu­nity in North­land. Within min­utes of the shoot­ings po­lice were seen at the North­land Is­lamic Cen­tre, in Whanga¯rei and Musa said the po­lice re­sponse to the hor­ror shoot­ings had been amaz­ing.

He said within min­utes of news of the shoot­ings he was con­tacted by many friends and col­leagues — Ma¯ori, Pa¯keha¯, Mus­lim and non-Mus­lim — who all passed on their thoughts and con­do­lences.

“Th­ese peo­ple were at their prayers, in peace, pray­ing at their mosque. This should not be hap­pen­ing in a place of wor­ship . . . it should not be hap­pen­ing any­where,” Musa said.

He agreed with Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern that this was a dark day for the coun­try. “This is not New Zea­land and this is not New Zealan­ders. This ha­tred must not be al­lowed to win in this peace­ful coun­try.”

Musa said New Zea­land is a place of peace and tol­er­ance and the shoot­ings were not the New Zea­land he knows and loves.

He said while there were oc­ca­sion­ally the odd ‘ig­no­rant per­son’ who did not un­der­stand the reli­gion who may say the odd com­ment, there was no wide­spread anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment that he was aware off, ei­ther in North­land or the rest of the coun­try.

“But I never thought that this would hap­pen any­where in New Zea­land. This is such a won­der­ful coun­try and I find it so hard to be­lieve that it has (hap­pened).”

PIC­TURE / PETER DE GRAAF

Kaikohe (pad­dlers) ob­serve a minute’s si­lence for the vic­tims of the Christchur­ch ter­ror at­tack be­fore the Bay of Is­lands Waka Fes­ti­val got un­der way at Wai­tangi on Sat­ur­day morn­ing.

Suhil Musa, Imam for the North­land Mus­lim Com­mu­nity Char­i­ta­ble Trust.

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