'Get to know and don't assume'

Flowers outside the An-Nur Early Childhood Education and Care Centre Dunedin, which was closed all week after very few Muslim children attended as they were fearful following the Christchurch attacks on Friday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Flowers outside the An-Nur Early Childhood Education and Care Centre Dunedin, which was closed all week after very few Muslim children attended as they were fearful following the Christchurch attacks on Friday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A Dunedin Muslim woman who has faced racist abuse since arriving in New Zealand has called on people to stop making assumptions and start getting to know people of the Islamic faith.

In the latest incident four months ago, she says she was accosted by a group of men in Dunedin, who swore at her and told her to stop thinking she ''had the right to be here''.

But Madiha Farid says she was heartened by response of the community to the atrocity in Christchurch.

She sees it as an opportunity for Muslims and other New Zealanders come together, learn more about each other and to start appreciating diversity

Ms Farid is a teacher at the An-Nur Early Childhood Education and Care Centre Dunedin, currently on maternity leave - the centre is closed this week after very few children attended on Monday, fearful following the Christchurch attacks.

She arrived in New Zealand as a young teenager full of hope, but soon endured racist bullying at school in Auckland, she said.

''I was told to show them where I was hiding Osama bin Laden.

''I had no idea who he was, and I politely told them I think they have mistaken me for someone else as I don't know anyone with that name.

''They laughed at me and kept mocking me and as I walked away I didn't understand why.''

In other incidents, she had been told to remove her headscarf, to ''go back home,'' was sworn at and told she did not have a right to be in New Zealand, she said.

''Almost all of us have faced such hurtful incidents throughout the years.''

Ms Farid said in the most recent incident a group of men took her parking spot, before shouting and swearing at her.

'' ... then [they] told me that I needed to stop thinking the country was mine and I had the right to be here.

''It was scary as they almost hit my car and I had my kids with me and was pregnant.''

The Christchurch terror attacks shook her ''to the very core of [her] being'', as had the revelation the suspect lived in Dunedin before the killings.

''To think that this man was among us and around us with such hatred is beyond belief.''

Ms Farid said she was heartened by the response of New Zealand to the tragedy.

''To see the unity and aroha being spread around is heart-warming and I see this as positive change for all of us to get to know each other and to acknowledge and appreciate the diversity of race [and] religion.''

''If only, instead of people making assumptions based on what they see in media, they actually spoke to us and got to know us.''

george.block@odt.co.nz

Comments

Those who harass and insult are barbarians at the gates.

Sabah El-Khair (Good morning) Madiha Farid I am so Aasif (sorry) for what fellow NZ'ers have said and done, I suspect if they had travelled witnessed other cultures or embraced other cultures if they had they might start to learn how friendly and nice Muslims are. Inshalla (gods will) this will end and the NZ Muslim community will live shoulder to shoulder, embrace each other and build each other up, I love how Muslims greet each other first thing every day by shaking hands or saying hello to the opposite sex it breaks the ice, I know it made me feel part of the team when I worked in a Muslim country, and I felt that I could always go and speak to those fellow workers for help.
My favourite Arabic word is Al-Hamdolillah - Thanks God (answer to How are you?) it is such a pretty word and gives me butterflies when I say it. Inshalla things will get better for you and your family. Please report such bad things to the NZ police as it is not right. We need to live in peace and we all need to be able to walk down the Share'a (street) with out fare.
Ma'assalama (Good Bye)

 

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