Meet A Muslim Initiative Hopes To Engage Public As We Remember Devastating Mosque Attacks Last Year
- Two Imams leading a nationwide drive to engage in positive discussions with the public.
- Activities involve: Candid discussions over ‘Coffee, Cake and True Islam’ and ‘I’m a Muslim ask me anything’.
Two Imams will be leading a group of youth as they venture across the country under the banner of the nationwide ‘True Islam NZ’ campaign.
From Wednesday 11th March to Tuesday 17th March, the group will be stopping at different towns and cities in the South Island from Nelson to Christchurch in an effort to educate on the true and peaceful teachings of Islam.
Speaking on the purpose of the initiative, Waikato-based Imam, Sabahuzafar said:-
“A couple of years ago, a New Zealand attitudes survey revealed that the more avid a newsreader one is, the more likely they are to hold anti-Muslim sentiments. This is because the only exposure people get to our faith is what they hear in the media, which is often negative. This can lead to the rise of far-right extremism and targeting of Muslims, like was the case in Christchurch last year. We wish to change the narrative with our ‘True Islam NZ’ campaign.”
As part of this campaign, Quran Exhibitions, Question Islam events, public talks, leaflet distributions, Meet a Muslim and ‘Coffee, Cake and True Islam’ events have been held across the country.
Speaking on the timing of this specific drive coinciding with the first memorial of the Christchurch Mosque attacks, Wellington-based Imam, Mustenser Qamar said:-
“As we recall the horrific events from last year, we remember the tragedy, the loss of life, but also the coming together of the whole nation and standing against discrimination and terror. The unity displayed was unprecedented and unseen. However, since then, there have still been racist and Islamophobic events occurring throughout the country. Where we need to stand together, we also feel a need to educate. Ignorance leads to misunderstandings, which can lead to negative perceptions and stereotyping.”
He further said:-
“We wish to drive a counter narrative. Show people that Muslims are no different. The purpose of us holding these events and opening up is to make lasting connections, to develop friendships and allow people to ask any questions about us or our faith.”
Throughout the tour, the group will be heading to the streets wearing shirts saying ‘I’m a Muslim ask me anything’ and hoping to engage in positive discussions. They will be arranging public Coffee, Cake and True Islam sessions where members of the public are invited to join them over a hot drink and savouries; engage in candid and open discussions and just build friendships.
The group intend to also donate books to different public libraries and are offering free literature to those interested in learning more.
Whilst continuing their activities, they intend to join in memorial services being held in Christchurch on the 15th March.
They will be visiting towns and cities across the country including Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Nelson, Picton, Blenheim, Grovetown, Kaikoura, Waipara, Amberley, Christchurch, Culverden, Hamner Springs, Reefton and others.
Imam Sabahuzafar said:-
“We invite everyone, whether you have questions or not, to just come and meet us. Get to know a Muslim or just come and ask any questions you have.”