Racism ‘something we’re going to have to confront as a nation’

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meeting with the representatives of the refugee centre during a visit to the Canterbury Refugee Centre in Christchurch, on March 16, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

New Zealand will need to confront racism as a nation, Jacinda Ardern told media today, saying it was needed to ensure the safety of the Muslim communities and others. It comes after 50 people were killed in the Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks last Friday. 

“The primary suspect here, the person who has been arrested for this terrorist attack, was not a citizen of New Zealand,” Ms Ardern said when asked if Christchurch had problems with racism. 

“That is not to say there are not those who live in New Zealand who hold values and ideas and use language that is completely counter to what the vast majority of New Zealanders believe. 

“I don’t think we can ignore that. We cannot ignore that.”

People who do not hold the values “of openness, of diversity, of compassion” is an issue “we’re going to have to confront as a nation”, Ms Ardern said, if the safety of the New Zealand Muslim community and other communities is to be ensured. 

Guled Mire told TVNZ1’s Breakfast today that since he arrived in New Zealand 22 years ago as a refugee from Somalia with his family, he has experienced racism almost daily, been chased by a skinhead, talked down to by teachers and patronised by his peers.

One of his earliest memories in New Zealand is of his local mosque burning down, the target of an arson attack.

Mr Mire says attacks targeted on Muslim communities are “nothing new to us”.

“We’ve had situations where the heads of pigs have been chopped off on mosques and vandalism on mosques throughout the country.

“This was a terrorist attack fuelled by white supremacist violence extremist ideology and I think we need to acknowledge that.”

On Saturday, Ms Ardern was asked if she agreed with the view that white supremacy world wide was not a growing problem, she said: “No”.

One of his earliest memories in New Zealand is of his local mosque burning down, the target of an arson attack.

Mr Mire says attacks targeted on Muslim communities are “nothing new to us”.

“We’ve had situations where the heads of pigs have been chopped off on mosques and vandalism on mosques throughout the country.

“This was a terrorist attack fuelled by white supremacist violence extremist ideology and I think we need to acknowledge that.”

On Saturday, Ms Ardern was asked if she agreed with the view that white supremacy world wide was not a growing problem, she said: “No”.

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