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Islamophobia needs to be understood and acknowledged, say Muslim New Zealanders

The inherent racism that manifests alongside Islamophobia needs to be understood and acknowledged by New Zealand, a community advocate says. 

Community advocate and former refugee Guled Mire, and Denise, who is active in the Canterbury Muslim community, spoke to John Campbell on TVNZ1's Q+A last night about their experiences in New Zealand as Muslims in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attack. 

Last week, Mr Mire and Campbell were both on a panel about the refugee experience, and Mr Mire spoke about his nieces. 

"I keep thinking about that moment, the fear that I talked about that we as Muslim communities live with and how despite all of it, I actually have a lot more fear and a lot more worry for my five little, beautiful nieces growing up in this country. 

"One day they're going to choose to wear a hijab and whether they make that choice or not, to do so comes with a heavy price." 

He said it creates a visibility an vulnerability, making them more likely to be targeted.

"We've been talking about extremism targeted towards Muslim communities, Islamophobia, for a very long time. 

"Then two days later [the attack happened]... I'm still absorbing it all."

Denise (a Pākehā woman), when asked if she had had the experience of Islamophobia said she had, "not perhaps as directly as some members of the community". 

"I think that's because if you are young, coloured, a woman and a visible Muslim, you've got all four prejudices." 

"If I took off my hijab I'm no longer visibly Muslim... the more layers of difference you add, the more likely you are to have some prejudice or act committed against you."

Mr Mire said "100 per cent" Islamophobia was tied up with racism. "That's the nature in which white supremacy works and it doesn't just discriminate upon Islam."

"What happened here.... it could have happened to any other community. It could have been any one of us. That's how white supremacy manifests."

He said New Zealand needed to "understand that and we need to acknowledge it" despite the fact that Muslims "bore the brunt of this".

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“How on Earth did we get to this point and how on Earth do we get out of it?” Campbell asks. Source: Q+A