North sends its support to centres
“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).”
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.