In a remarkable reaction to the Christchurch tragedy, people in New Zealand’s second largest city of Dunedin have raced to volunteer and support Muslims.
Hundreds of people have put their hands up to help either by trying to upgrade mosque security, help with cooking, gardening, transportation, or accompanying Muslim women, Otago Daily Times reported.
Volunteers just wanted to offer the “everyday kindnesses that have sometimes been forgotten,” Dunedin City Council community development and events manager Joy Gunn said.
“People want to offer to just have a cup of tea with somebody from the Muslim community, so they can be reassured that there are people who want to have a cup of tea with them,” she added.
Terrorist Brenton Harrison Tarrant killed 50 Muslim worshippers in March 15 attacks as he targeted Al Noor and Linwood mosques.
According to the terrorist’s manifesto, Dunedin’s Al Huda Mosque was the original target of the March 15 shooting.
To support Muslims, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern visited the Al Huda Mosque and the An-Nur early learning center and met with members of the Muslim community two weeks after the shooting.
The Red Cross staff in Dunedin also witnessed a “big surge” in help offers, with more than 50 new volunteers coming forward.
The Otago University Students’ Association had also fielded fresh offers from student volunteers wanting to help.
A new online group, seeking to find women to support other Muslim women in Dunedin, had also attracted “several hundred” volunteers, organizers said.
Otago Muslim Association chairman Mohammed Rizwan said the volunteer response to date had been “tremendous”.
“It’s been really great for us as a community to have that kind of support coming from everyone else,” he said.
“That sort of emotional and social support is really good for the community.
“It is definitely helping.”