Christchurch mosque shootings: Imam Gamal Fouda’s speech after Royal Commission’s inquiry into the mosque attacks

The speech by Imam Gamal Fouda which will be read at the Masjid An-Nur (Al Noor mosque) following the release of the Royal Commission’s inquiry into the mosque attacks.

We would like to begin by acknowledging our faith – you have been the strongest
support and source of healing throughout.

This is not a culture but an integral, intrinsic core part of who we are. We share this with a quarter of the planet.

Without an ability to strengthen this, to restore its dignity and to grow understanding of its beauty we struggle to see how true belonging can be achieved.

Every person should have the opportunity to practice their faith in peace and to feel this element of themselves has a place here In Aotearoa.

It is part of our anthem:

Men of every creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our free land

This is essential for authentic belonging. We seek to model this to the world in a way that doesn’t forget that the foundations of partnership and belonging in Aotearoa lie
in our commitment to the intentions of the treaty of Waitangi.

Our country – our team of 5 million – you have been our strongest supporters
throughout.

This kindness and manaakitanga, this is an essential part of NZ culture,
one that we are proud to call ‘ours’.

You showed the world the best of who we are and who we want to be.

You were there for us and we were there for you as thousands flocked to our mosques and we held and received you with open arms and supported you to understand that we could forgive and we could trust.

For we never lost trust in our country. But it’s been a tough 21 months.

We have gone through a lot – all of us – and we acknowledge that some have gone through more than others.

This Royal Commission report highlights some of the strain on that trust and the importance of investing in building and protecting public trust for national
security.

This will take time and a collaborative approach where we learn from each other and share the strengths we all bring.

As Muslims we are used to being in the spotlight for having our actions under surveillance and suspicion by intelligence agencies and media.

We strive to uphold our faith as a 24/7 reality with the very real fear that others with the same faith even on the other side of the world might be impacted by our behaviour and actions.

After the 9-11 attacks on the twin towers in 2001 families felt threatened in New Zealand from an attack thousands of kilometres away.

We ask that all of us – as a country, as a government and as a community of individuals – take a different approach. We ask that all of us realise the world is watching and learning from our example.

The approach after 9-11 was to match an attack of hate with further attacks. That approach left humanity no closer to bridging our divides.

We ask our beloved country of Aotearoa to chart a different course. This is a course that is not of division but one of unity, compassion, kindness and aroha.

We may have to divide from the pack as we begin the journey but we trust many will unite and join with us.

As the famous Muslim poet Rumi said:

Come, come, whoever you are,
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, even if you have broken your vow a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.

This may not be an easy path and we may have to build the plane as we are flying
but we have faith that this is the right direction that we want our country to be
steering.

We feel the world needs this ray of light and beacon of hope more than ever.

That we can achieve a different path, a path we can share together in equal partnership, a path where we harness our diversity and overcome the hatred that seeks to divide us, a path where we can say we did the right thing.

We owe this to those that lost their lives on March 15, 2019, and we owe this to the generations that will follow.

Kia kaha. Assalaamu alaykum. God defend New Zealand.


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