Anjum Rahman: We warned you. We begged. We pleaded. And now we demand accountability

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For more than five years, Muslim representatives knocked on every door we could, we spoke at every possible forum. We pointed to the rise of vitriol and the rise of the alt-right in New Zealand, writes Anjum Rahman of the Islamic Women’s Council of NZ

How does a heart break? Does it shatter into a million pieces? Does it split into two aching, throbbing halves? Does it break with a low keening wail or an earth-shattering scream of pain?

On Friday, we heard the sound of millions of hearts breaking in this country as shots rang out in two mosques in Christchurch.

Time and again, the media have asked me whether or not I was surprised that this attack happened in our country. I will explain to you why I was not surprised. I will try to convey to you my absolute blinding rage.

The Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand (IWCNZ) was formed in 1989, and Muslim women have connected and gathered throughout the country ever since. Our leadership team has a good idea of what our women are going through and the issues in our daily lives. We know the impacts of mainstream discourses arising from wars and terrorist attacks overseas, and from events such as the publishing of ugly cartoons.

In recent times, we became concerned about the increasing pressure on our communities from rising levels of discrimination in this country, and the social issues that came with that. The issues we were seeing were too much for our community to resolve on a volunteer basis. More than this, the solutions were systemic and required investment by government in programmes and human resources.

So about five years ago, we wrote a comprehensive report of the problems we were facing and sent it to the Ministry of Social Development. We pushed, but as far as we know, nothing concrete was done with that report.

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