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“They Are Us” but Who Are They and What Do They Believe?


“They Are Us” but Who Are They and What Do They Believe?

The 9/11 New York City Twin Towers attack was the trigger for Anjum Rahman’s work as a political and human rights activist. “I could see that our world was changing and I didn’t want my kids to grow up in fear or to feel ashamed of who they were.”

Rahman has spent the two decades since speaking up about discrimination against Muslim and other communities and the need for an inclusive society. In 2019, she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to ethnic communities and women and shortlisted for New Zealander of the Year.

She will be keynote speaker at Catalyst Trust’s “They Are Us” but Who Are They and What Do They Believe? event in Queenstown on Friday, November 27.

“They are Us” was the bold claim made in the wake of the Christchurch mosque massacres of March 15, 2019.  But, is this picture of inclusiveness real and how much do non-Muslim Kiwis know about what Muslims believe? 

These are some of the questions for Catalyst Trust’s in-depth discussion with Ms Rahman and Queenstown’s new Imam Shukri bin Halim.  The evening will also include a meal hosted by our local Queenstown Muslim community, who will share their perspectives of what it is like to be Muslim in Queenstown.

In the wake of the horrific attacks, people were asking what they could do, Hamilton-based Rahman said. Two months later, she launched the Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono, a community-led initiative to combat discrimination and build on work already being done.

Through the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand, Rahman had for years been warning the government of the “rising temperature” of white supremacy and Islamophobia in New Zealand. She says the mosque attacks were preventable if their warnings had been heeded.  They were ignored.

Rahman says public policy should focus on prevention of violent extremism, more than countering it through surveillance. “Preventing violent extremism requires empowering communities, fostering belonging, valuing and celebrating difference.”

Catalyst Trust has organised this event as an opportunity to create better links and understanding in our Queenstown community, and we welcome you to join us.

Friday, November 27, 6-9 PM, St John’s Ambulance Hall, Frankton. Registration required on Catalyst Trust’s Eventbrite page for catering and contact tracing. Updates on Facebook - catalystnzQT. Koha will go to meal costs and vulnerable local Muslim families.