NZ Muslims show solidarity with French Victims

Muslim NZers stand alongside victims of Paris attacks

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The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand have issued a joint statement with the NZ Human Rights Commission in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in France and Lebanon.

“We stand alongside all innocent victims of terrorism in peace, solidarity and humanity,” said Hazim Arafeh, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand.

“The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand condemns all terrorist attacks and joins the rest of the world in deep sorrow as we mourn men, women and children murdered by terrorists and extremists.”

The Auckland Council of Christians and Muslims has also unequivocally condemned the recent terrorist acts in Paris, Beirut and Sinai.

They say it is simply not possible to claim religious sanction for such heinous acts.

“The call to be peacemakers in the midst of human division is a central, though frequently forgotten, tenet of both the Christian and Muslim traditions.”

The Council has invited all New Zealanders to reaffirm their commitment to thoughtful and consistent peace making as a primary expression of their humanity.

Asif Koya, president of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand, told the New Zealand Herald that he condemned what has happened and feared widespread and indiscriminate recoil on the Islamic community.

“I’m sure Muslim’s in France will be affected and I wish them well for the pressure they will come under,” Koya said.

“Obviously we are very saddened for all the victims and everyone affected. We condemn any act of violence.”

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy urged New Zealanders to recognise “that terrorism has no religion and that Muslim Kiwis unreservedly and wholeheartedly condemn extremism and violence.”

“The Human Rights Commission stands alongside Muslim New Zealanders in their continued and uncompromising call for peace,” said Dame Susan.

“Hate starts small but so too does hope.  Terrorism has no religion and neither does humanity: we urge Kiwis to stand together in humanity.”

On Sunday about 100 people from the Muslim community gathered in downtown Auckland to protest against terrorist group Isis.

Both young and old gathered at the Aotea Square and called on world leaders to unite against the group Isis.

One woman told the group Isis had again struck its deadly hand on the people of France.

But many other people around the world – including in Afghanistan – had lost their lives to terrorist actions.

“Though 120 people have been killed in Paris and the world is shaking right now, but what about the people, the thousands who have been killed [already]? Whoever knows about it?”

The speaker said now was the time for the world’s leaders to come together to fight Isis’ regime.

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At a time of tension between the supporters of fundamentalist religion and those who believe that God condemns community violence; this show of solidarity between the New Zealand Muslim and Christian communities, whose leaders have offered the following statement, is vital to a proper understanding of what true religion ought to embrace:

“The call to be peacemakers in the midst of human division is a central, though frequently forgotten, tenet of both the Christian and Muslim traditions.” 

The recent appalling attacks against innocent people in Beirut and Paris – as well as in other parts of the world where religious fundamentalism provokes violence – calls for all people, religious and non-religious, to stand up for the solidarity of all human beings, in the quest for the right to live in peace with one another – despite our cultural differences.

Sadly, fundamentalist religion can often be a root cause of disaffection – especially in places where, hitherto, communities have been content to live side by side with social and cultural diversity, without conflict.

Like institutional racism, fundamentalist religious systems – that claim priority in moral philosophy, while yet subscribing to violence in order to induce others to adapt to their particular life-style – have no place in a world they claim to be created and sustained by the God they believe in.

Suspicion, for instance by fundamentalist Christians, that the Muslim Faith is rooted in violence against Christianity, cannot be sustained by practical experience. Both the Koran and the Bible have elements of violence within their pages, but this has to be seen in the setting of their historical past – which covers times of hardship and opposition that have predicated the use of force in order to survive. However, the biblical record, for example, needs to be interpreted by the teaching of Jesus Christ, who counselled the love of one’s enemies, while yet seeking justice for all by peacful means.  

Having once lived in Fifi, where Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists & Christians managed to live together in relative peace and harmony, I know that, at base, these religions have peaceful co-existence as a major plank of their day to day philosophy and praxis. I pray that we all, in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and in other places of our world, will be able to maintain good relationships – because of, rather than despite, our religious differences.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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