I Am a Muslim New Zealand Woman And I Am As Dishonest As I Am Sad

This is something else.

I am sad that this happened but I am equally angry that little had been done to address the issues leading up to this event.

What are they expected to do?

As Muslims we have been told our anger is dangerous, our anger is unacceptable.

Depends what the anger is about. People who walk around angry all the time do tend to get isolated.

Time and again we are told that we have no right to express our emotions.

I have literally never heard anyone say this. In fact, quite the opposite.

At the vigil in Auckland on Saturday I expressed my anger and I said that I will not apologise for it. How dare anyone ask me to apologise; to cower; to limit my expression of emotions.

Ok, on Saturday you were angry about your fellow Muslims being killed. But tell me, have you ever expressed anger at people being killed by Muslims? Or is that what you’ve been told to shut up about? Because I’m told that those people who use Islam to hate are not really Muslims.

The thing is, Muslims seem to consider themselves the victims no matter what happens. Anyone who criticises them is quickly shouted down as “Islamophobic”. And you do your share in this column.

For so long we have been told to be quiet, to be invisible, to know our place and apologise for our very existence.

I’ve never heard anyone say that either. If you have something to say, speak up. If you’re willing to condemn extremists who use religion as a cover for violence, you’re welcome here and you don’t need to apologise for anything.

To be grateful that we were allowed to be a part of a utopian paradise.

You should be grateful to be here, regardless of who you are. I know I am.

Here’s the thing though. Westminster governments have created peaceful places. But Islam doesn’t use the Westminster system, and it’s nations are not known as peaceful. Maybe that’s an accident, maybe it’s because there’s something inherent in the respective cultures which have resulted in different outcomes. But there is a difference, and you’ve moved here, to a peaceful Westminster-governed country. So yes, in that sense you should be grateful. I’d be disappointed if you weren’t.

But if there’s one thing that comes through in this article, it’s that you’re not grateful. At all.

But let’s not fool ourselves. We have never really been a part of New Zealand. We have merely been allowed to exist—never embraced, never included, never accepted. Muslims have been in New Zealand since the 1800s but we are still treated as outsiders.

If you are Muslim you are a minority here. Much of the way you live your life is different from what the majority experience. So there’s always going to be some separation. There are places where that isn’t the case, but New Zealand isn’t one of those.

But this is not a supremacist society. We welcome people from all over the world, to come here and live here. We regularly have events where we celebrate different cultures – I attended one that celebrated [redacted] culture a few months back.

Are you treated as outsiders? No, I don’t think so. You are a minority in a country that has a Christian heritage. But you’re not an outsider any more than a Afrikaner who goes to the local church (or not as the case may be). I know one who has a dash-cam in case he crashes, because as soon as people hear his accent, he believes they’ll think he’s an evil racist guy.

But here’s a funny thing. I’ve been here all my life. So have my parents, and their parents and their parents. But I keep being told that I (as a white NZer) am responsible for stealing this land. In fact I found this article on an MP’s twitter feed because that MP tweeted exactly that. Now if my family has been here longer than most NZ cities is spoken of like that, what earthly hope do you have?

After the events of 9/11 our family home in Mt Roskill was vandalised, my mother and I had eggs thrown at us, and people would constantly yell at us from their cars as they drove past. “Go home,” they said. They accused us of being “Osama lovers” and terrorists.

I believe this. It takes only one person to throw an egg, or yell or vandalise.  This could literally have been one person. Or it could have been hundreds.

(And of course, no one has ever made up such claims and put them on the internet without proof, knowing they’ll be believed. Yep, that’s never happened.)

Thing is, when I was standing in an abortion protest a few years ago, people yelled at me too. When I spoke on controversial issues on campus, people rang my cousin (same first initial) and threatened him. At 2am.

People can be stupid. It’s part of growing up to accept that people can hurt you emotionally, and you just have to shrug it off and move on. Just make sure you are a good person, and ignore the haters.

Of course things beyond words are a different matter. Vandalism is a crime. Throwing eggs is a crime. I see a lot of people think throwing eggs is ok though. So that’s ironic.

Yet oddly, there’s nothing about what happened when you spoke to police. I’m guessing they were professional and handled it like any other case and you can’t complain. Because I get the impression you like to complain.

Over the years the New Zealand Muslim community, along with Muslims all over the world, became the demonised other. Attacks on women wearing the hijab grew, Muslim women received death threats and hate mail, protest against “Sharia law” abounded, and there was growing sentiment that Muslims weren’t Kiwis, that we weren’t welcome and were threatening to take over New Zealand. We were supposedly going to be the reason New Zealand would no longer be a utopia.

Protests against Sharia law are just that – protests against the possibility to introduce Sharia law. I’ve personally not heard of any in NZ, but that’s not to say none have happened, just that I don’t have evil friends (note to self – get evil friends). All Muslims need to say is “no, we have no intention to push for law changes, and we never will.” End of issue. But the reason why these protests occur is that Muslim leaders keep being quoted saying they want it to happen.

As for “growing sentiment” that “Muslims weren’t Kiwis” etc, I know for a fact there are people who think this way. But is that sentiment growing? I see no evidence in your article, or outside it, to back up that claim.

If the last few days have proven anything, it’s that those people are a small minority. The overwhelming response has been one of love and acceptance towards the Muslim community.

Little was done to change this narrative. Instead we followed our “friends” the USA, UK and Australia and changed our legislation and policies. Muslims swiftly came under surveillance and were branded a threat. Family and friends were targeted, interrogated and coaxed to become informants. Muslims were aggressively pursued and were asked if we hated New Zealand, accused of harbouring ill intent and planning an attack on our soil.

And at no point have I seen any rejection of that ideology in this article. Nor an acknowledgment that such surveillance has been justified by extremists being exposed in various mosques.

Interesting thought: there are churches in my denomination that broadcast their services on the internet. Maybe if you did that, people could see for themselves that there’s nothing going on. Frankly, if people came to listen to sermons in my church, for any reason, we’d be really happy.

Naturally, our community shrunk back in fear and confusion.

Yes, this article is clear evidence of the way that Muslims shrink back in fear and confusion.

Oh wait, no. They always go on the aggressive attack. Labeling any criticism even remotely related as “Islamophobia”, refusing to answer reasonable questions, complaining loudly at the slightest slight, and writing articles about how hard done by they are.

Here’s the thing. I know someone who witnessed the anti danish cartoons protest in Auckland. I know what the press omitted from the news reports. Don’t pull that “fear and confusion” bullshit with me.

At no point did I hear anyone acknowledge that Muslims, in fact, were the victims of extremist ideology.

That’s what happens when your response it to demand apologies, instead of issuing statements distancing yourself. People notice omissions like that. We’re not stupid.

Women in particular became targets of religious hatred due to our visible signs of faith. We also bore the brunt of patriarchy as our community, whitewashed to follow entrenched views on gender inequality, comfortably relegated women to the side.

Here’s where you really begin to treat us like fools.

We all know full well that Islam’s treatment of women has nothing, zero, zilch, nada, to do with how you’re treated by the outside world.

The patriarchy hurts everyone but people of colour the most. The decision makers and leaders everywhere we looked—within and outside our community—were men who never acknowledged or even tried to understand our concerns. Women were only allowed tightly controlled advancement.

Translation: I want the feminists to like me too.

Ironically, Islam has countless fierce female leaders and Khadija (RA) was one of those women—the wife of the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) she was a successful female business owner who was 20 years older than the Prophet and was key in spreading the word of Islam.

That’s not really relevant though, is it?

Our mosques quickly became targets, assumed to be hotbeds of illegal and extremist thought and behaviour.

It’s fair to say that’s only an assumption insofar as it’s proven true. Mosques all over the world have been revealed to have been preaching hatred and intolerance.

And the response is, too often, “how dare you”.

We saw a global rise of white supremacy and open hostility towards Muslims.

Yes, and you shrunk back in fear and confusion. We got that. [yawn]

There is no doubt that a normalised fear and suspicion of Muslims in New Zealand exists.

There’s no doubt you want your readers to think that.

Only the most gullible fool would say that’s the case today. Yet your article is only dated yesterday, in an American publication.

So why are we so surprised that this attack happened and that mosques were targeted?

Have a look outside the Christchurch gardens, at all the flowers. Or would you rather just write articles about how everyone hates you?

The Khadija Leadership Network held a conference last year in October because we saw these signs. The things that had occurred overseas were occurring here too.

Translation: you tried to whip up division.

The frustration during that conference was palpable. We knew this day was coming and we were frantically asking people to listen. We were dismissed and told very firmly that Muslims shouldn’t be talking about these things.

Who dismissed it? Who told you that “Muslims shouldn’t be talking about these things”?

Seriously, listen to that guy in future. because maybe if you did, you wouldn’t be writing damaging articles like this.

These things do not happen in New Zealand and our sort should not rock the boat. And how dare women not only involve themselves but actually lead in these spaces? So instead we just braced ourselves and furiously prayed that an attack on Muslims would not happen here.

We literally have our 3rd PM in power now, and our second female chief justice. Maybe this “they told us women to shut up” would be believable elsewhere, but get real. New Zealand isn’t like that.

Or maybe you’re talking about Muslim men. In which case, why aren’t you telling them that, instead of airing your dirty laundry in public?

But it did. The physical manifestation of that hate came for us. It came for us in such a big way that the entire world is horrified.

Including me. But I’m also wary of people using the event to push an agenda. Which you most clearly are.

And even though this unimaginable, heinous thing happened to us we still carry on in our ways. There are so many voices crowding the discourse, throwing opinions around and puzzling on solutions but no one bothers to look around and notice that a segment of society in missing. A key segment. The ones directly impacted by the horror. We are once again marginalised and made invisible even when we are so visible. Once again we are talked about when we should be the ones being listened to.

Again, this might be believable to the readers of VICE, who aren’t seeing what’s happening here. But the rest of this country are seeing it, and seeing your response to it.

It’s time for new voices at the table. It is time for women to be leading conversations. It is time to listen to the voices that make you uncomfortable. Voices that express anger. Voices that call for the country to engage in difficult dialogue. Voices that will no longer accept the status quo.

You’re actually arguing against that. You’re trying to shut up any voices that make you uncomfortable, voices that don’t like the status quo where immigrants can come here, regardless of their values.

It is time for New Zealand to acknowledge Islamophobia is rife in New Zealand and that our current discourse on racism and it’s watered-down corporate cousin, ‘diversity and inclusion’, falls woefully short.

Kneel before me slaves!

Muslim women need to lead conversations and actions across the country, and even more so when it comes to our own community.

Right, so we’re all bad and hate you, and you should be in charge. Got it.

Look, I have sympathy with what happened. You know all those flowers? Mine was literally the 5th laid. Literally. I have the photo to prove it.

But if you wonder why so many people are so suspicious of Islam, just read your own column again. Can you really justify this sort of anger and hatred when NZ has been so horrified by what happened to you? Can you really justify blaming western society for how women are treated in Islam? Can you really justify talking about “fierce female leaders” in ancient Islam, but really not going out of your way to reject any of the long list of Islamic Terrorist groups? And can you really justify calling “‘diversity and inclusion’” racism’s “watered-down corporate cousin?

Because here’s the thing.

Right now you can get away with this. Everyone is sympathetic and the sadness and guilt that comes from seeing a visitor hurt is overwhelming.

But if you keep it up, people are going to notice.

And they’re going to realise that you just spat in their crying face.

Update: the column is really a kafkaesque piece of work, in that any criticism of it “proves the point”. Which really goes to show what a bully she is.

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