‘We have never seen anything like this’: New Zealand expat in the UAE says

A demonstrator holds a banner during a vigil in London on Friday. (AP)
Updated 16 March 2019
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‘We have never seen anything like this’: New Zealand expat in the UAE says

DUBAI: New Zealand Muslims expressed shock and disbelief at terrorist attacks on two Christchurch mosques on Friday that left at least 49 worshippers dead and 50 others critically injured.

“We’ve never seen anything like this in New Zealand. It’s not what we are about,” Shamim Kassibawi, a publicist from New Zealand and UAE resident, told Arab News.

“We had Arabic and Islam school every Sunday, we were allowed to practice … it’s shocking,” she said.

Shamim Kassibawi, a publicist from New Zealand living in the UAE.

“New Zealand is open to any religion and faith. Actually, religion is never discussed, so this is really new. I typically go back twice a year and my mother is (veiled) … we walk through airports, we go to the mall, no one looks at you twice,” she added.

Kassibawi spoke of the support she received after news of the terrorist attacks broke.

“All my friends back home, the Kiwis, they are messaging me, and sending lots of love and support. They’re putting up all these messages about how the Muslim community is a part of us,” she said.

Seen at a vigil in London on Friday. (AP)

The South Auckland Muslim Association issued a statement saying that it is “deeply saddened and disturbed by the attack on the Muslim community, targeted while at prayer.”

New Zealand’s last census in 2013 showed there were just over 46,000 Muslims in the country — a mere 1 percent of the population. 

The number of people identifying as Muslims rose by 28 percent between 2006 and 2013, according to Stats NZ, and just over a quarter were born in New Zealand.

After the Christchurch attacks, Mustafa Farouk, president of the Islamic Associations of New Zealand, said that the community had always felt safe in the South Pacific nation.

“We feel that we are living in the safest country in the world. We never expected anything like this could happen,” he told television station TVNZ.

“Muslims have been living in New Zealand (for) over 100 years and nothing has ever happened to us like this, so this is not going to change the way we feel about New Zealand.”

At least 49 people, including children, were killed, and 50 others critically injured when a gunman opened fire on Masjid Al-Noor mosque and Linwood mosque in Christchurch.

Police detained three men and a woman, and later charged one man with murder.

One of the four detained after the mass shootings is Australian, said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

(With AFP)


Swiss parliament backs expelling militants to states that use torture

Updated 43 min 16 sec ago
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Swiss parliament backs expelling militants to states that use torture

  • Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied
  • One of the convicted militants is a wheelchair-bound man found guilty in 2016 of planning terrorist attacks and helping Daesh operatives enter Switzerland

ZURICH: Switzerland’s parliament approved allowing convicted militants to be sent home to countries where they could face torture, leaving the government to decide how to implement the motion without breaking international law.
The Swiss constitution bans expelling people to countries where they might be subject to torture. But parlimament’s upper house on Tuesday narrowly adopted a motion allowing exceptions for foreign militants, as the Swiss lower house had done.
The motion stems from discontent among lawmakers over the ability of Iraqi militants convicted in Swiss courts of aiding Daesh to avoid being sent home because of the ban on exposing people to torture or other inhumane treatment.
Conservative critics say the ban has cost taxpayer money to care for convicted militants and angered citizens who say Switzerland should not have to host such people on its soil.
Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied.
“The security of the Swiss population has top priority but we also have to adhere to the limits of the rule of law.”
One of the convicted militants is a wheelchair-bound man found guilty in 2016 of planning terrorist attacks and helping Daesh operatives enter Switzerland. Freed from prison, he now lives in a transit center for asylum seekers and is fighting extradition.
Switzerland said this month it would not help bring home its own stranded citizens who had joined extremist forces in Syria and Iraq, insisting national security was paramount.
Switzerland is a signatory to the United Nations’ 1984 Convention against Torture, which bars expulsions of people to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
Iraq is also a party to the convention, but lacks laws or guidelines providing for judicial action when defendants allege torture or mistreatment, Human Rights Watch said in a report last year. It said torture was rampant in Iraq’s justice system.