Indian Imam thanks NZ for making Muslims feel safer
Anjana Sankar /Abu Dhabi
An Indian Imam in New Zealand's Wellington said the country has shown the world how to stand up against terrorism and promote oneness among diverse communities.
"Muslim community feel safer than ever now. The government, the law enforcement bodies and the people have all come together to reassure us that we are all one. There is a lesson here that many other countries can learn," said Zubair Saqafi, Imam of Tawa Islamic Centre.
Speaking to Khaleej Times over the phone from New Zealand, Saqafi said the Muslim community is deeply touched by the love and support they are receiving.
"When news started spreading about the terror attack on two mosques, there was panic. People were worried about their safety and many decided to lock themselves up inside their homes. But that has changed now."
"Even random people come and hug me on the streets and tell me that they are all with us. I have received numerous message and cards of love and support. People are still coming and laying flowers in front of mosques. I have never felt more safer," said Saqafi who has been living in New Zealand for more than 11 years now. He is married with four school-going children.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's gesture of donning a black abaya when she met the grieving families on Saturday, Saqafi said, sent out a strong message.
"That was a powerful image. Even the officials who came to meet us were wearing Islamic caps and greeting us in Arabic. I felt that they were fighting this battle for us."
Condemning the terror attack that claimed 50 lives, the Ardern said the shooting was one of New Zealand's darkest days.
Rubbishing rumours spreading on social media about mosques being closed down in different parts of New Zealand, Saqafi said the government, in consultation with mosque authorities, had decided to temporarily shut down mosques for security reasons.
"My mosque was also closed till today and opening only during night time. I also had to move out of my apartment next to the mosque and live in a temporary accommodation with my family as per government instructions."
He said the government has also promised special protection during Friday prayers at all mosques starting next week.
"The authorities are not taking any chances. We hope this will be the last such attack on this soil. People across communities are shocked and saddened that this has happened in New Zealand."
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