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Hate Speech Timeframe Concerns Muslim Community

“FIANZ, the umbrella Muslim organization in Aotearoa NZ, is concerned that no specific timeframe has been given for the proposed legislation on hate speech”, said Ibrar Sheikh, President. “”Last August we raised objections about the lack of meaningful consultation due to the haste to meet the legislative deadline. Now we see that haste was unnecessary and may well have contributed to the confusion which has led to the Minister’s recent announcement to delay proposed legislation, “ said Abdur Razzaq, FIANZ Chairperson RCOI .

“Whilst we are pleased that the Government is now trying to ensure that the legislation is fit-for-purpose we are nevertheless concerned that no timeframe has been mentioned.

With an election year looming, we hope that electoral concerns are not taking precedence over addressing the well documented rise of hate speech and hate crime.

We have been assured by the Prime Minister in her March 15 address to Parliament that “Better comes through the systemic changes we make, like the changes to our laws," said Abdur Razzaq.

“FIANZ suggests that instead of ad hoc legislation, there should be an overall social cohesion framework plan under which hate speech and hate crime should be anchored.

This is what the Royal Commission had envisioned. We also trust all political parties will respect that hate speech leads to hate crime and no one wants another tragedy like March 15.”

“We cannot change society through legislation alone. There needs to be positive and proactive social cohesion programmes and robust debate on the impact of hate on the vulnerable sectors in our society. Vulnerability is not just found in faith communities, but also ethnic communities, the disabled and others . Vulnerable communities also share a deficit in the equity stakes.”

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“With respect to hate speech, we hope that this time the wording of the legislation is made clear so that there is no scope for confusion. We also hope that the hate speech, hate crime and the overarching social cohesion programme are integrated into the Government’s timetable. We trust lessons have been learned by the concerned officials and a legislative timeframe shall be announced soon, ” said Abdur Razzaq.

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