CHRISTCHURCH – A ‘human chain of love’ is planned on Friday, March 22 around mosques in New Zealand to support the Pacific nation’s Muslims after the terrorist attack which killed 50 of them and left dozens with life-threatening injuries, News Hub reports.
“We hope to make the event countrywide. It has the blessing and approval of the NZ Police and Auckland Muslim Community Liaison Officer,” informed Jude Fippard, an organizer of the Facebook event ‘NZ Stand Together’ which calls New Zealanders to get out regardless of faith to the local mosques to join hands in a chain around the buildings.
“The event is scheduled at 12:00 pm at noon so they can pray in peace,” Fippard explained referring to the Muslim weekly Friday prayer which witnessed last week on March 15 the massacre of more than 50 Muslims in Christchurch city in New Zealand.
The organizers of ‘New Zealand Stand Together’ event also plan for a similar event at Wellington’s Kilbirnie Mosque on Friday, March 22 as well.
Terrorist Brenton Harrison Tarrant killed 49 Muslim worshippers in Friday’s attacks as he targeted Al Noor and Linwood mosques.
Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, said the victims came from across the Muslim world, with Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia among the countries rendering consular assistance.
The ‘human love chain’ was inspired by a similar event that took place on March 16 outside Lodi California Mosque in the USA. The gathering was to show support and provide protection to American Muslims during their prayers.
One of the participants at California’s event, Kri Belden, said: “We’re here to keep the people inside safe during their religious services following Friday’s mass shooting in New Zealand.”
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.
On a 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 established in 1959 and there are now several mosques and two Islamic schools.
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.
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.
The Aotearoa Māori Muslim Association (AMMA) is the most influential Māori Muslim movement. Its leader, Sheikh Eshaq Te Amorangi Morgan Kireka-Whaanga, was recently identified among the top 500 most influential Muslims.
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).