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Christchurch’s Muslims Return to Mosques after Darkest Day

CHRISTCHURCH – Members of the Muslim community in New Zealand backed by native Maori returned  back for the first time since Friday to the two attacked mosques in Christchurch where an Australian terrorist massacred over 50 Muslims, TV New Zealand reported on March 18.

“You can see today the coming together of our communities,” said Take Justin Tipa, the Ngāi Tahu, aka principal of Māori people, of Christchurch, the largest city in New Zealand’s South Island.

“Our Māori community and our Islamic community, and it’s been a beautiful thing to regather again. Albeit out of a tragic, very sad event. But, you know, I think it’s had the opposite effect of what the terrorist intended,” the tribal official continued.

All across the grieving city, expressions of love were on display, hundreds of New Zealanders regardless of faith gathered to pay their respects at Linwood Mosque.

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Along with Maroi, Father El-Baramoussy from the Coptic Church met with Imam Ibrahim Abdul Halim as the two faiths came together as one.

“We need continuously, to live and love,” the bishop said.

On his behalf, Abdul Halim expressed that: “Muslims deserve the right to live ordinary lives. We’re human beings also. We have the same natural functions; eating, drinking, desire, and so on like that. We’re human beings, like all people.”

The imam added, “The moment we all understand that what happened here on Friday will never happen again.”

Maori & Islam

In New Zealand, Islam is a minority religious affiliation, as small numbers of Muslim immigrants from South Asia and eastern Europe settled starting from the early 1900s until the 1960s.

According to the 2013 national census, there were approximately 600,000 Maori people in New Zealand, making up 15% of the national population. They are currently the second-largest ethnicity in New Zealand, after Europeans.

Additionally, there are more than 140,000 Maori in neighboring Australia. Based on 2013’s census, 48.4% of Maori were Christians while 46.3% didn’t believe in any religion.

The rest follow different religions like the Traditional Maori Religion and Islam. The number of Maori Muslims grew rapidly by the end of the 20th century to 1,074 at the 2006 census, this equals 0.19% of the Maori population.

Islam is estimated to be the fastest growing religion among Māori. The national census figures show the number of Muslims of Māori ethnicity increasing from 99 to 708 in the 10 years to 2001, and to 1,083 by 2013 census data.

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