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New Zealand Deports Islamophobic Pastor

WELLINGTON – A controversial Baptist pastor in New Zealand, charged for verbally abusing Muslim worshippers at a mosque, has now been deported, Daily Mail reported on July 29.

The Pillar Baptist Church pastor, Logan Robertson, was accused of shouting racist slander towards a 65-year-old man and 15-year-old boy earlier in the month when he and a group of followers turned up to Kuraby Mosque in Brisbane.

It was also alleged Robertson referred to Islam as a cult and insulted the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). A day later, the 31-year-old pastor visited the Darra Mosque in Oxley where he was filmed in a heated exchange with Islamic Council of Queensland spokesman Ali Kadri.

Police alleged he told the two men “you don’t belong in this country, you bloody terrorist, and we should burn this place down to the ground.”

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton canceled Robertson’s Australian visa and he was reportedly arrested by Australian Border Force officers.

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Robertson and two other men aged 28 and 29 were each charged with two counts of public nuisance and one count each of entering premises with intent and trespass.

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.

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.

In 2004, Sheikh Eshaq led the Qur’an Tilawat at the “National Islamic Converts Conference” at the Canterbury mosque in Christchurch.

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).