SHAFAQNA – “Hate does not make you great” was the message delivered at a rally welcoming Muslims to New Zealand.
More than 200 people gathered in Palmerston North to show their support for countries targeted by US President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban for people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Speaking to the crowd, Palmerston North city councillor Brent Barret, originally from America, compared the ban on Muslims to the persecution of Jewish people during World War Two.
“Today we know our history and we are standing up for justice and human rights.”
Barrett said he was appalled at the US ban, which that country’s courts have blocked.
“Today we stand in the face of that storm.”
He urged people to deliver a message less than 140 characters long, in reference to Trump’s use of Twitter.
“Hate does not make you great.”
Manawatu Muslim Association president Zulfiqar Butt thanked the crowd for making them feel at home.
“I am hopeful that with your help we will get through this period.”
He urged people to spread a positive message.
“The more you describe evil, the more it spreads. I will not say that man’s name.”
Rally organiser Lorna Johnson said although the travel ban had been suspended, there was still uncertainty about what would happen in coming weeks.
She said New Zealand was affected by the “climate of hate”, but here, Muslims were a welcome part of the community.
Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand president Hazim Arafeh said there was no place for hate in New Zealand.
However, he acknowledged there would always be “isolated acts of bigotry”, referring to the Muslim woman who was subject to a racist attack in Huntly.
“We still believe these are isolated. We do not believe that this represents the true genuine ethics of New Zealand.”
Arafeh said he was proud to live in New Zealand.
“I could not live in a better place.”
Katherine Chisholm attended the rally and said it was her way of showing support.
“So much on the news and stuff coming out of the USA is so depressing and shocking.
“When I heard about this I thought this is something I can do.
“I feel quite encouraged and proud of Palmerston North.”
Andrew Mock also attended and said it was important to stand up and be seen.
“We have to show people who settled here we don’t endorse that.”