Muslims Still Suffer Racism after Christchurch Massacre

“New Zealander Muslims continue to be victims of racist abuse more than a month after Christchurch terrorist attack. Women’s hijabs are being pulled off and the Muslim community are encountering a lot of verbal abuse,” said the founder of Khadijah Leadership Network, Tayyaba Khan, during an interview on April 16 with TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

Khan informed that many New Zealander Muslim citizens are failing to report these incidents for a fear of coming across as ungrateful.

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“They’re feeling like in the current context it’s showing that we might be ungrateful, that we might be creating more chaos, more resentment, polarization and what that’s meaning for a woman particularly is that they’re not reporting it,” she said.

“It’s around the public perception of how people view the Muslim community and that’s where the concern lies.”

Khan also informed that her leadership network is encouraging the Muslim victims to report the Islamophobic abuses and attacks they face.

“We’ve been encouraging them to talk to the New Zealand police, we’ve been encouraging them to report it on the Islamophobia register that has just gone live, or actually go to the Human Rights Commission and make a complaint.”

Moreover, Khan said that they are “trying to encourage woman to feel okay about reporting and not feel ashamed about it or feel guilty they’re making others feel like we are ungrateful. We want women to carry themselves with confidence and feel comfortable in the wider New Zealand society.”

She urged victims: “If you see something taking place please support the person, say something to the perpetrator, encourage them to report it and support them through the process that might be quite violent for them.”

The New Zealander Muslim community was hit by an Islamophobic terrorist attack last month, on March 15, in Christchurch city when an Australian terrorist of a European ancestry killed 50 Muslims and injured dozens more in a mass shooting in two of the city’s mosques.

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 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).