-- Let’s just all pray together --

The PM has called it “one of the darkest days in New Zealand’s history”. She also called it “an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence”.

We are calling it a terrorist act, as per the New Zealand Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 No 34 (as at 01 March 2017), Public Act 5, which defines a terrorist act as one “carried out for the purpose of advancing an ideological, political, or religious cause, and with the following intention: to induce terror in a civilian population...”. (update at 7pm: PM has also now called it a “terrorist act”.)

While the authorities – New Zealand Police and other government agencies – are doing their jobs of containing the situation, and apprehending the suspects; the civil society, political leaders, and most importantly the media in New Zealand, should and must play their part too. Which is to “play a positive role in bringing all the communities in New Zealand together”, as noted to this newspaper few years back by Imam Gamal of Masjid Al Noor - the same mosque which was attacked in Christchurch today.

I still vividly remember the day when I sat down with the Imam in this very mosque, and we talked about a range of issues, including the general misconceptions people in the western world have towards Islam. (https://themigranttimes.org.nz/stories/2016/9/4/imam-gamal-interview?rq=mosque)

Please note what our good friend Imam Gamal says in this interview,

“Unfortunately politics makes things worse. People listen to the media, which perpetuates misconceptions. People need to learn about Islam from authentic scholars who represent true Islam, not from those who call themselves Muslims, but hide behind the religion and use it to force their own agenda and create chaos. Whether it is Syria, or Lebanon or Palestine, or Yemen, even Egypt and Tunisia and Libya now.

So all these groups who call themselves Islamic States, I call them Non-Islamic states. Un-Islamic. They don’t represent Islam, they do not represent Muslims. The media should help spread the true vision, and image of what’s happening there. Whether it is petrol, money, or political power.

In all they may be three to four thousands, who cannot represent billions of Muslims around the world. So the media should be objective and help promote the true meaning of Islam. Especially in NZ, the media should promote harmony, unity among the different religious groups.

Media in NZ should promote unity rather than disunity.

Islam is a religion of peace. Universal brotherhood. Like all the other religions. God created us all and we are brothers and sisters in humanity. We should work together, share the land in peace, and work towards the development of our country.”

Please read and share this interview again, and again, and again.

And hear the Imam again, and again, and again.

We need to tackle any kind of extremism together. We are all in this together.

About the Imam – I haven’t heard about him since the afternoon. I pray for him, and for everyone who faced today’s unprecedented act.

Waiting to hug you the next time we meet, and pray together brother!