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Motion - Christchurch Shootings

19 March 2019

 

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, on behalf of 
Dr Woodruff and I and all Tasmanian Greens, I strongly support this motion 
and extend our love and our empathy and our support to our cousins in New 
Zealand. 

Members of Parliament met in St David's Cathedral this morning for the 
ecumenical service that marks the start of this session of the Parliament. 
As we sat there in introspection and quiet reflection, it really struck me 
that at 1.45 p.m. last Friday, there were people gathered in worship in 
two mosques in Christchurch at their most vulnerable, at their most 
introspective and their most defenceless.

As Tasmanians, as the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition have 
remarked, we have a uniquely tragic understanding of what the people of 
New Zealand are going through now. We understand the pall of grief and 
disbelief hanging over that country and we share it. 

It is important we acknowledge we are talking about mothers, fathers, sons, 
daughters and children and I take the opportunity to name of the victims 
of last Friday's shooting. 

Naeem Rashid was one of the 50 victims of the Christchurch massacre. 
After he witnessed his son, Talha, shot and killed and men and women slain 
around him, he lunged at the terrorist with his bare hands. He was 
courageous until the very end and he died a hero. 

Abdullahi Dirie was only four years old. He was in the mosque with his 
dad and four siblings. His family members survived but Abdullahi was 
killed inside the mosque. 

Mucad Ibrahim was only three years old and he was the youngest of the 
victims. He had his whole life before him. 

The scholar, Hafiz Musa Vali Patel, memorised the 
entire Koran and was a respected scholar and community leader. He lived 
much of his life in the Fiji Islands but had moved to New Zealand weeks 
ago to be part of the Christchurch Muslim community. 

The beautiful smiling face of Tariq Omar is before me now. He was 24. 
His mother dropped him off and pulled around the back. She heard the 
first round and then the next two and fled, seeing bodies on the ground 
and people running. She waited for her son to come out but he never did. 
A natural athlete, Tariq Omar was known for his humility. He excelled in 
sports and was intellectually curious. He was a favourite among his 
classmates and took great pride in being both a Muslim and a New Zealander.
He loved the outdoors.

There is the smiling surgeon, Amjad Hamid, 57, who had emigrated to New 
Zealand for a better life with his family 23 years ago. He was a heart 
doctor, always smiling and beloved by his patients. His wife, Hanan, and 
two sons, knew the mosque on Friday was his sanctuary. His sons say their 
mum is really struggling because she loved him so much.

Grandpa Haji-Daoud Nabi, 71, loved his little granddaughter. He always 
stood with her at the door of the Christchurch mosque, her locked to his 
leg as he greeted people inside. He was the first identified victim on 
Friday.

There is the founder of the Christchurch mosque, Mohammed Atta Elayyan, a 
Palestinian refugee. He raised the funds to create a community space for 
New Zealand's Muslims. Here he is smiling with his son. He was killed on 
Friday inside the mosque he built. 

Proud son Talha Rashid, 21, was shot and killed in front of his father, 
Naeem. He was in college and attended Christchurch mosque with his dad. 
They prayed together and were slain alongside each other.

Madam Speaker, there is story after story. The bravery of the woman, 
Husne Ara Parvin, who threw herself over her husband who was in a 
wheelchair. Linda Armstrong, born in New Zealand, converted to Islam, was 
a warm soul who adopted a boy from Bangladesh. She had grandchildren and 
fought Islamophobia in Christchurch. Every one of these stories is 
utterly heartbreaking. 

It is very difficult at times like this to find the right words. I did 
want to say something about language and Ms White has touched on it. It 
is a shock to us all that the murderer was an Australian. We all feel 
gutted and sick about that, but it is a very important opportunity for us 
to reflect on the kind of language that has been part of our political 
discourse for the past 10 or 15 years that has contaminated our politics 
and has whipped up fear, racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. 

There is a reason that Tasmania's Muslim community and people of the 
Islamic faith in Australia have felt afraid in recent years, because of 
the contamination of our political discourse. It is very important that 
we challenge this every time we hear it. I am proud to say that I look 
around this Tasmanian Parliament and there is no-one I could judge in that 
way for using racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic language. We are an 
inclusive and tolerant community and it is reflected in this Parliament, 
and perhaps it is partly because we are an island community and there is a 
sense that we are all in this together. 

But the purveyors of fear and hate in this country, right to the top of 
our body politic, must take time to reflect, and it is not appropriate to 
say this is not the time to talk about the language we use. Now is 
exactly the time to challenge that language, because words have power. 
They have power for good and they have power for enormous evil, and I do 
not mean evil in the sense of the Christian construct, although others may 
see it that way. Human evil and vile language that legitimises racism, 
fear and xenophobia is evil at its core.

Madam Speaker, it is Harmony Week and a really important opportunity for 
us to reflect on our shared humanity. As the bishop said this morning at 
the service, religions are different but as human beings, we are not 
different. We want peace, we want to be loved, we want to feel safe in 
our community, and on behalf of the Tasmanian Greens I want to say to 
Tasmania's Muslim community, you are loved and you are valued and we want 
you to feel safe here. You are us and we are all in this together.

I want to close with some words from the Islamic leaders of New Zealand. 
Mustafa Faroukh, the president of the Federation of Islamic Association of 
New Zealand, has said that the community is in shock and mourning but is 
resilient. I hope that resilience is strengthened by the enormous 
outpouring of love from the people of New Zealand - and for anyone who has 
not seen the schoolchildren doing the haka, please watch it.

Mustafa Faroukh said: 

The message for those who peddled hatred was that they have failed 
woefully because what they have done, if anything, is to increase the love 
and the feeling we have for our own country. We have also seen the 
tremendous outpouring of love, what we call aroha, here in New Zealand.

Madam Speaker, from this Tasmanian Parliament today there is an outpouring 
of love for the people of New Zealand. We stand with you, we love you, we 
want to give you strength and we will never forget the victims of the New 
Zealand shootings.