Muslim Students in Canterbury Univ. Meet Police for Safety Workshop

Muslim students at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand met this week with local police officials for an informal safety workshop following the Christchurch massacre, TV New Zealand reported on May 2.

Bariz Shah, the president of the university’s Muslim Students Association (UCMSA) said: “It’s important that our community’s members are able to meet in person with local police to address their safety concerns. I’d be lying if everybody said they felt safe after the massacre.”

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50 Muslims were killed and injured by an Islamophobic European-Australian terrorist in a massacre in two Christchurch mosques last March 15.

Shah informed that UCMSA in Christchurch has over 200 members, “many of whom are international students living away from their families and homeland nations.”

According to 2014 reports, the university had 715, academic staff, 1,158, administrative staff, in addition to 15,564 students, 9,590 undergraduates, and as much as 2,777 postgraduates.

The informal workshop was run by Constable Shonosuke Deguchi, who works in the Canterbury Police ethnic services team.

Deguchi encouraged the students who turned up at the workshop to report hate crime. “We encourage people to report any hate crime, whether it’s racial, religious, anything – police will take it seriously,” he assured.

Both UCMSA and the police agree these workshops need to continue for some time to come.

“We see it as really important because unfortunately, nothing of that magnitude has been prepared for in New Zealand and we’ll like a heads up if anything of that nature was to happen again,” Shah believes.

The University of Canterbury is New Zealand’s second oldest university which was founded in 1873 after the University of Otago.

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. It is home to 404,500 residents, making it New Zealand’s 3rd most populous city behind Auckland and Wellington.

Due to safety fears, Muslim elders are considering canceling four large Ramadan gatherings in Christchurch.

After the massacre, many Muslims in Christchurch were scared of attending big gatherings.