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‘Demonised Constantly’: New Zealand Muslims Blame Politicians, Media for Mosques Massacre

CHRISTCHURCH – Prominent Muslims in Australia have expressed sorrow and outrage in the wake of Friday’s New Zealand mosque attacks, which killed at least 49 Muslim worshippers while attending Friday Juma`h prayer, SBS reported.

Grand Mufti of Australia and New Zealand Ibrahim Abu Mohamed partly blamed the killings on the “hate that some media reflect in its handling of Muslims”.

“They always portray Muslims as a violent terrorist,” he told SBS Arabic24.

The Mufti also lamented that some media sources did not refer to the terrible massacre of people while praying as terrorism.

“I can sense that media is not portraying [this] as a terrorist attack. It is a terrorist attack. It is organized. For me, this is a terrorist attack. This proves that terrorism has no faith affiliation or ethnicity.”

He offered condolences to the victims and urged the Muslim community to “follow the law and restrain themselves. We must not react in New Zealand and Australia”.

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Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Australia’s first female Muslim senator, went even further than the grand mufti.

“There is blood on the hands of politicians who incite hate. To me, there is a clear link between their politics of hate and this sickening, senseless violence in Christchurch,” she tweeted.

“Muslims have been targeted during Friday prayers. This is not an isolated event with mysterious causes. This is not random. This is the consequence of the Islamophobic and racist hate that has been normalized and legitimized by some politicians and media,” she added.

“We know Muslims are directly targeted by politicians day after day including those on the far-right like Pauline Hanson and Fraser Anning. We know Muslims are demonized constantly. We know we are hated by some.”

The Muslims Australia – Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has also said the attack was “a product of the ever-increasing Islamophobia and marginalization of Muslims”.

“[It is] a reminder to all concerned, including political leaders and media commentators, of the horrific consequences that an atmosphere of hate and division can lead to. No country or community is immune to such atrocities,” it said in a statement.

“We urge governments in Australia, both at a Federal and State level, to give extra attention to the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment and extremism.”

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

Large-scale Muslim immigration began in the 1970s with the arrival of Fiji Indians, followed in the 1990s by refugees from various war-torn countries. The first Islamic center was started in 1959 and there are now several mosques and two Islamic schools.

Islam is estimated to be the fastest growing religion among Māori natives of New Zealand. 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.

On the other hand, while the overall Pacific Islander community grew 15% according to census data from 2001 to 2006, Muslim Pacific Islanders grew 87.43%.

According to 2013 census data, there were 1,536 Muslims among the Pacific Islander community (a little under 3.5% of New Zealand’s Muslim population).