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Lessons Not Yet Learned From The Royal Commission.

FIANZ has consistently condemned extremism and terrorism in any part of the world. The arrest in Turkey of a woman who has been an Australian domicile for more than two decades has raised two issues, according to Ibrar Sheikh, President of FIANZ.

Firstly, the victims’ welfare, which in this case are two innocent children, have to be of paramount concern. We note that Australia ratified the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1990 and there are obligations which need to be followed. It is quite concerning that on one hand the Australian Prime Minister in a message, specific to Australian children, stated “we have to look after each other”, albeit in the COVID-19 context, but now wants to absolve any responsibility of taking care of two Australian kids. Children should not be pawns of political sidesteps. At a time, after the Royal Commission Report on the Australian terrorist’s massacre in NZ, our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is focusing on social cohesion, her Australian counterpart is advocating social exclusion even for children

Secondly, FIANZ is also particularly disappointed with the recent media report, which seems to perpetuate the baseless argument of linking the Muslims of NZ with terrorism. With less than a few days before the anniversary of the Mosque massacre, it is very insensitive for statements being made that there are people who are under “watchlists” here in Aotearoa New Zealand. This is something we have been hearing in the media since 2014. No facts or evidence have been provided, yet the Muslim community is again being tarnished with this harsh brush of Islamophobia. Statements by politicians without evidence can have a devastating effect on small and vulnerable communities like us, and the media has the responsibility to ensure fair and balanced reporting. Let us not forget the scaremongering about ‘jihadi brides’ and the subsequent fact that there was not one case of any Jihadi bride leaving from NZ. The damage was done then and the Islamophobia which the Royal Commission acknowledged, still continues.

Despite the fact that the Muslim community has borne the brunt of the domestic terrorism, it is further very callous for a politician to warn and the media to report without any qualification, that ‘to meet requirements of being a NZ citizen, you do not engage in terrorist activities domestically or internationally’. Yet it was the Muslim community which suffered the tragedy of domestic terrorism. This type of media reporting is a testament to the continuation of the securitization of Islam and Muslims of NZ. The Royal Commission reported that they were told that ‘religious communities and especially the Muslim communities were often “othered” in the media and by politicians perpetuating the idea of ethnic and religious communities belonging to a “different and separate” community at odds with national and global communities.’ Even after 10 weeks of the Report being released it seems that lessons have not yet been learned, said Ibrar Sheikh.


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