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In a world full of hate, I see doves

In a world full of hate, I see doves

Tayyaba Khan

Beirut, Paris, Nigeria, and the never ending war on humanity in Syria. As time passes it seems the list of atrocities continue to expand, and so does the production of analysis of how complex the situation is. The unfortunate but most pressing outcome of all this is how this cycle is about nurturing hatred and mistrust amongst the common man.

I am not a dreamer, well not anymore. So I am not about to suggest that love and peace is the answer. In fact if anything it annoys me deeply when the answer to the current crises and loss of life we mourn is simplified to the need for more love & peace in this world. What does that even mean? Where is this love being taught, and how can we make sure everyone is taking the course?

Working for a small refugee organisation on the front lines of responding to the longer term refugee resettlement I can tell you that hearing pleasantries about love and peace as the answer is no longer convincing the masses. Immediately after the Paris incident refugees once again became the target of national security issues, and though it was great to see refugee advocates counteract this argument in the social media sphere one wonders why it is so difficult to grasp that such violence is exactly what those seeking refuge are running from. The immediacy with which refugees became a factor within the global problem of addressing terrorism led me to a stronger affinity with the question Fisk posed a few months ago asking if we have lost the compassion we learnt from the second World War.

Or should the question be that we are losing compassion for a certain kind of refugee? Last month we read about the discrimination Fatima Mohammadi experienced because of her hijab, and let’s not forget the newly arrived Syrian refugees who fear how they are being perceived because of how their faith is being projected in the media. This fear only reaffirmed when comments by general public to articles here in New Zealand start calling for more careful measures around background checks only highlighting the ignorance of the excessively thorough systems we currently have in place.

I find myself once again resonating with an article written in July this year and with Fisk’s statement, “Alas, we now treat each refugee on the grounds of their race, religion or purpose of flight (“migration”). We do not treat them as human beings. And thus we betray all our religions and all our cultures.”

What then is the solution? The first step is accepting that we have a problem. Which is why I found Dame Susan Devoy’s recent interview on the undercurrent of racism in New Zealand a refreshing sign that we as New Zealanders deserve to remain in the top ranks of the global peace index. The second step is acknowledging the critical role faith-based organisations have in refugee resettlement. Dame Susan Devoy briefly touches on the importance of ‘inter-faith’ work in tackling racism in her interview. I believe we need to nurture the role of faith-based organisations in refugee resettlement.Research suggests faith is important in building trust with refugee communities, and it is time that secular New Zealand reached out to what seems uncomfortable so we can all see doves.

Tayyaba Khan is the CEO of ChangeMakers Refugee Forum, a not-for-profit based in Wellington with a vision to see New Zealanders of refugee background participating fully in New Zealand life.

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