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'This happened here, and it began with hate speech' – MP Golriz Ghahraman on Christchurch terror attack

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman, a former refugee from Iran, said today that "every minority in New Zealand" knows of the hate and white supremacist ideology that "does exist in pockets here". We must show the world, she added, that "love, peace and compassion will win over hate and division". 

"Our nation is broken and my heart is broken," Ms Ghahraman told Parliament. 

"I’ve felt the grief as a member of that affected community and as a Kiwi as we gathered at mosques, as we held each other at vigils, as we held each other a little tighter when we remember the little three-year-old, Mucad Ibrahim."

Mucad was the youngest victim in the Christchurch terror attack on Friday that killed 50 people.

Ms Ghahraman also spoke of Dunedin running out of flowers over the weekend. 

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    Ms Ghahraman is a Muslim and was deeply saddened by the event. Source: Seven Sharp

    "That is the New Zealand that welcomed my family and I when we escaped oppression, at the risk of torture..." she said.  

    "I want to thank every single New Zealander…who stood on the right side of history for our values of inclusion and love. It matters to our communities, as we’re frightened."

    Ms Ghahraman spoke of a Syrian refugee family who were victims in the mosque attacks in Christchurch.

    "Refugees like my family, who escaped the harrowing war, the unthinkable, they found freedom here. But they died on Friday," she said.

    "We owe those victims the truth. This was terrorism. It was terrorism committed by a white supremacist. It was planned at length... because white supremacy was not seen as a pressing threat, even as the some in the Muslim community were."

    She said although the alleged perpetrator was not born in New Zealand, "his ideology does exist in pockets here".

    "Ethnic communities, refugees, tangata whenua have been telling us this for years."

    "Our most vulnerable communities are hurt and we are scared. White supremacists want us dead."

    Ms Ghahraman spoke about "the barrage of hate online" she receives: "the death threats, the rape threats, the threats of gun violence".

    On Friday, before the attack, Green Party co-leader James Shaw referenced the death threats Ms Ghahraman and co-leader Marama Davidson receive online as he addressed media after being allegedly assaulted on his way to work. 

    Ms Ghahraman described the harassment as "my daily truth as a politician". But it's not confined to her profession, she said. 

    "Every minority in New Zealand knows this as a little bit of our truth," she explained. "We can't pretend this was an aberration from overseas.

    "This happened here, and it began with hate speech allowed to grow online. History has taught us that hate speech is a slippery slope to atrocity.

    "New Zealand must address this now."

    Ms Ghahraman turned to her fellow MPs. 

    "There sit among us those who have for years fanned the flames of division."

    She said that none of the MPs "were responsible for what happened on Friday... We are all horrified, but also are all on notice - we must change the way we do politics here".

    "We have to demonstrate to the rest of the world that the values of love, peace and compassion will win over hate and division. We must be brave as we have the important, difficult conversations that are long overdue in our country. We must shine a light into the shadows of pockets of racism that do exist in our country. 

    "We must weave the incredible outpouring of love for our Muslim communities that we have seen over the last few days, we have to weave that into the fabric of our society."

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      "This happened here, and it began with hate speech, allowed to spread here online," the Green MP said. Source: 1 NEWS