A mosque in Auckland has been shut down indefinitely
following violent attacks and the declaration of jihad, or
holy war, against private security staff hired to guard the
Bill Frost, who leads the Global Security Intelligence team
at the Avondale Islamic Centre, was assaulted twice on Sunday
and said he feared for his life and the safety of his family
after one worshipper threatened him with jihad.
High fences, seven security guards and two police officers
were yesterday seen on the site as worshippers were turned
away from afternoon prayers.
The New Zealand Muslim Association, which owns the property,
said it was shutting down the centre until further notice
because of safety concerns.
The centre's administrator was brutally beaten two weeks ago
after issuing trespass orders to a Salafist imam and some of
his supporters, and spent 10 days in hospital with fractures
and eye injuries.
Mr Frost said he was assaulted twice as he was handing out
six trespass orders to people causing trouble at the
Blockhouse Bay Rd mosque on Sunday.
"A man spat at me and another struck me, and there was no
reply from me," he said.
One of the men then started shaking and chanting in Arabic,
and Mr Frost heard some others saying the man was declaring a
"My understanding of jihad is that it is a religious
assassination notice, I take this threat really seriously ...
and I'll be acutely aware of the vulnerability of up to seven
children in my home," said Mr Frost.
"It appears that these [people] are radical fundamentalists
... to actually put a jihad on a New Zealand citizen trying
to enforce New Zealand law is ludicrous."
Police Superintendent Wally Haumaha told the Herald last
Friday when he visited the mosque that police were
investigating one assault complaint and would "certainly be
investigating"any others made.
Dr Zain Ali, head of Islamic research at the University of
Auckland, said Mr Frost should be concerned with the threat.
"If the jihad had been made as a genuine declaration it can
include a number of things including the declaration of war,
and I think the security staff is right to be concerned,"
said Dr Ali.
"Even if it was said in the heat of the moment, it really
means that emotions have taken over and ... people are
appealing to tradition to justify what they are doing, and
this can include physical violence."
But Mr Mohammed Selim, whose friends were among those who had
been served with trespass orders, denied they were extremists
or violent and believed it was wrong to stop them worshipping
at the centre.
"We signed a contract when we came to this country that it is
a free country, free to practise our worship and nobody will
stop you," said Mr Selim, originally from Egypt. "Suddenly
the problems start to happen and everybody get trespassed,
what law did we break or what kind of violence did we make?"
Another worshipper, Farouq Ismael, said he was planning a
protest because money from members' donations to the mosque
was being used by the association to pay for the security and
Two Islamic factions have been embroiled in a battle for
control at the mosque for over two years.
- Lincoln Tan of the New Zealand Herald