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Christchurch Shootings

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Tags: Condolence, Violence

Christchurch Shootings Condolence Motion: O'Connor


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.