Sunday, 22 July 2007

Community leaders support Voices of Peace

RAM - Residents Action Movement
Media release on Voices of Peace
22 July 2007

Community leaders support
Voices of Peace

British MP George Galloway will be speaking against Islamophobia in Auckland on 27-29 July at Voices of Peace meetings hosted by RAM, the Residents Action Movement. (Meeting details below.)

"A group of hard-core, professional Islamophobes from Australia are coming to New Zealand in a few days time to spread a message of hatred towards Muslims and Islam," said RAM organiser Grant Morgan.

"These right-wing Christian extremists claim that Islam is the 'anti-Christ'. They claim that Muslims are 'on the march' to take control of countries like New Zealand. They claim that Muslims will destroy democracy here and force everyone to 'submit' to Islam, or else face being enslaved or killed. They call for the 'mother' of all 'spiritual wars' to be waged against 'evil' Islam."

"These and similar racist claims are the theme of a 400-page book titled 'Mosques and Miracles' which is the ideological framework for their New Zealand conferences of the same name. The lead speaker at these conferences is the book's author, Australian Baptist preacher Stuart Robinson."

"These right-wing Australian bigots are out to poison the minds of fundamentalist Christians at closed-door conferences in Auckland and Wellington. They want to incite hundreds of people into forming the core of a highly political campaign against New Zealand Muslims and their faith," said Grant Morgan.

"Ironically, the organising body of their closed-door conferences is Open Doors, a fundamentalist Christian group operating on both sides of the Tasman as well as in many other countries. The closed-door secrecy of Open Doors highlights their deliberate use of misleading language, such as their fraudulent claims to really 'love' Muslims."

The phone number for Open Doors New Zealand is (09) 620 4200. Their Mosques and Miracles conferences are advertised at

"RAM is organising Voices of Peace as a positive alternative to their racism against Muslims," said Grant Morgan.

"RAM supports the values of social inclusion, equal rights for all and world peace. We are heartened by the groundswell of support that Voices of Peace is receiving from grassroots people and their community leaders."

The broad support for Voices of Peace can be seen in the following statements by community leaders:

Organiser of the Auckland Council of Christian, Muslim & Jewish Youth.
"The NZ Council of Christian, Muslim & Jewish Youth is highly supportive of any endeavour to encourage religious coexistence. We strongly assert our vision of harmony between faiths through mutual understanding to counter those whose views are divisive and promote ignorance and intolerance. Thus we strongly support the Voices of Peace initiative as a demonstration of hope in a world unnecessarily perceived as being divided between competing religious ideologies."

Director of the Working Group on Alternative Security Perspectives.
"New Zealand has more to fear from tsunamis than it does from Islamic terrorism because it has no history of meddling in the affairs of Islamic countries. However, since 9/11 New Zealand has adopted a more hostile policy towards Muslim immigrants and has increased scrutiny of the resident Muslim population. This policy is exactly the type of scapegoating and discrimination that breeds resentment amongst disenchanted elements of targeted communities. By any objective criteria, Islam poses no threat to the Kiwi way of life unless New Zealand authorities and the public continue to ostracise Muslims simply because of who they are."

President of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand.
"While Muslims in New Zealand generally live in peace with others, Muslims in other countries are not so lucky. I hope that George Galloway will enlighten New Zealand on the plight of Muslims facing a rising tide of Islamophobia. This racism against Muslims is linked to the so-called 'War on Terror', which was never sanctioned by the United Nations. It was simply a ploy of the superpowers to plunder the rich resources of the Middle East. To defeat terror and religious extremism, Muslims, Christians, Jews and all others should practice a 'unity in diversity'. This will surely lead to peace and harmonious co-existence for all humanity. All faiths have a common theme of working for peace as a basic condition for leading lives acceptable to God Almighty. This was the message of all our prophets and seers of all ages."

RAM councillor on the Auckland Regional Council.
"New Zealand is a small country, so Kiwis know what it is to be a minority. That's why Kiwis get in behind the All Blacks and Team NZ when they represent our small nation in David and Goliath events. It is this camaraderie that makes us unique as a people. We support those who are doing brave and courageous things. This generosity of spirit extends to standing up for those who are being bullied. We won¹t put up with it. While not a believer, I will defend anyone's right to their religion, so long as they do no harm to others. The Muslims I have met are kind and loving people, unlike religious bigots who spout their hatred of those who do not share their beliefs."

Organiser of the Working Together Group within the Muslim community.
"We in New Zealand have been enjoying peace. Let's stand together to defend it and close the door on the messengers of hate. All of us, black and white, Pakeha and Maori, Muslims and non-Muslims, believers and non-believers, should stand shoulder to shoulder to deny the messengers of hate a foothold on our islands. We are the majority, they are the minority. Let our voices of peace be loud."

Co-president of the NZ Council of Christians & Muslims.
"The National Statement on Religious Diversity was recently adopted in draft form as a basis for ongoing discussion within our nation. It seeks to provide a framework for the recognition of New Zealand's diverse faith communities and their harmonious interaction with each other and with other groups in society. This positive initiative stands comfortably alongside the work of the Council of Christians & Muslims which promotes mutual understanding and respect between our two faith communities. Voices of Peace provides yet another voice for the building of an inclusive, just and non-discriminatory society in Aotearoa/New Zealand, a vision which CCM thoroughly endorses."

Young Muslim woman speaking at Voices of Peace university meeting.
"New Zealand is known as a country that respects the values and cultures of its citizens, irrespective of their origins and background. New Zealanders are not people who tolerate injustice, or acts of hatred and prejudice. Positive race relations and religious acceptance have become important features of this society's attitudes, and Muslims have taken part in building and shaping this country over the last century. People who encourage intolerance, misunderstanding and hate towards Muslims in this country do so from a position of ignorance about Islam. Inclusion, rather than community division or marginalisation, is the New Zealand way. It's the way forward for the future."

Vice-chancellor emeritus of AUT University and Auckland City councillor.
"More than ever before, with the huge arsenals of nuclear, bacteriological and chemical weaponry, we must learn to respect and affirm our differences of belief. Every religion seems cursed to have its supply of fanatics. We must embrace those many Muslims who share with so many Christians the ways of love, peace and respect for everyone, regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds. Those self-righteous fanatics among every religion, including Christianity and Islam, who affirm a faith that engenders violence and hatred must be challenged to find the true teachings of their prophets and theologians."


GEORGE GALLOWAY will be addressing these two meetings:


7.30pm, Saturday 28 July.
Auckland Girls Grammar School Theatre.
16 Howe St (off Karangahape Rd).
The three other speakers are:
  • JAVED KHAN, president of Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ.
  • PAUL BUCHANAN, international security analyst & director of the Working Group on Alternative Security Perspectives.
  • GRANT MORGAN, organiser of RAM - Residents Action Movement.
Limit of 800 seats, so those interested are being advised to get there early. NO DOOR CHARGE. Donations will be accepted. Off street car parks available.


6.30pm, Friday 27 July.
[NOTE: Meeting starts a half-hour later than first advertised.]
Venue to be confirmed, but will almost certainly be the Library Basement, University of Auckland, Alfred St, central city.
The three other speakers are:
  • NIBRAS KARDAMAN, young Muslim woman & representative of the Working Together Group.
  • HANNAH SPIERER co-leader of Greens on Campus.
  • GRANT MORGAN, organiser of RAM - Residents Action Movement.
NO DOOR CHARGE. Donations will be accepted.

Both meetings OPEN TO THE MEDIA.


There will also be Voices of Peace workshops where the nature of Islamophobia will be examined by Muslims and non-Muslims and moves made towards forming a broad activist network which will campaign against racism and other social injustices. George Galloway will give the introduction.
2-5pm, Sunday 29 July.
Fickling Convention Centre, 546 Mt Albert Rd, Three Kings.
Limit of 250 participants, so those interested are being advised to get there early. Plenty of off street parking. NO DOOR CHARGE. Donations will be accepted.

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