People in New Zealand’s second largest city of Dunedin have stepped up efforts to install security doors and CCTV camera at Dunedin’s Al Huda mosque, as serious concerns were raised about the safety of the mosque after the Christchurch attack, Otago Daily Times reported.
“Since the incident, obviously there was a big concern in terms of our emergency exits – that we do not have any,” Otago Muslim Association president Mohammed Rizwan said.
“We’ve just got one main entry and that’s in and out. So Otago Polytechnic actually approached us and offered to help out with the emergency fire exits.”
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 attacks reminded those at the mosque of its now missing CCTV system. The system’s hard-drive was stolen during a burglary at the mosque late last year and it had not worked since.
After the attacks, a local Good Samaritan stepped in and fixed the problem.
“A really Good Samaritan from the community has stepped up. He said ‘How can I help practicality wise’. We said ‘What about CCTV surveillance?’ and he said he can help with that – that he knows someone. So straight away on that same day, he gave me a call and said ‘I can get that done for you’,” Rizwan said.
“He said ‘Don’t worry about the cost – the labor, the materials, it’s all donated’.”
Members of the polytechnic’s design team also installed a security door and staircase to an existing but unusable exit.
“The thing that really struck me as I was talking to some guys [at Al Huda Mosque] the same age as me and they said ‘If it had been our mosque it would’ve been my dad, who’s standing over there, and my 14-year-old son’. I’ve got a father and a 14-year-old child and I instantly thought I’d like to get involved in this,” Otago Polytechnic’s building programs principal lecturer, Matt Thompson, said.
“And there’s no much else I can do apart from the build, so we thought let’s get in and do some building if that’s what they need.”
Rizwan said the gestures had been huge and meant a lot to the Muslim community.
“It feels great, I mean you feel included,” he said.
“As a Muslim, you feel like a minority in this country. But the support we got after the incident was really awesome – it was like wow. And the fact that people have stepped up and they’ve come out – and they’ve got no link to the mosque at all – and they’re coming up and saying ‘We want to help out’.”
Among the first Muslims in the Otago region were the Chinese immigrant in late 1800.
By 1995, the number of Muslim families permanently residing in Dunedin and the number of overseas students had grown rapidly and there was a need to establish a mosque in Dunedin.
The Otago Muslim Association Incorporated (OMA) was thus established in that year with the aim of catering for the needs of Muslims in the city of Dunedin and the provincial regions of Otago and Southland.