Muslim community reflects on tragedy

Tributes laid at the Islamic Centre in Invercargill after the terrorist attack in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. Photo: File

INVERCARGILL Imam Reza Abdul-Jabbar is still in disbelief over what happened in Christchurch two years ago.

But now, he also looks to a bright future.

These were the mixed feelings he said he had on Monday, thinking back on the terrorist attack which killed 51 Muslims.

On Sunday, an informal public event was held at the Invercargill mosque; Mr Abdul-Jabbar called it a time of reflection.

This included what had taken place, where the Southland Muslim community was at now and where it wanted to be in future.

Those who attended were welcomed and, after a few messages, shared a meal together.

“For us, it is important we don’t lose that momentum that we’ve built.”

He said it was important to know what they had achieved, as well as what else could still be achieved.

It was about building bridges.

“We want to make a clear, better, more comprehensive understanding of Islam and make it more readily available to fellow Southlanders, fellow New Zealanders.”

This was being achieved through Islam Awareness Week and conversations with the community, but he believed more informal engagement needed to be had.

“A lot of elements of hate come from the not-knowing what it is all about,” he said.