Voices of peace

The following is abridged from a July 29 report by the Residents Action Movement (RAM).

On July 28, 800 Aucklanders attended the "Voices of Peace" meeting at the Auckland Girls Grammar Theatre in Auckland. The theatre was packed out, while scores more had to be turned away. The evening before, a maximum crowd of 450 had packed an Auckland University lecture theatre for the first Voices of Peace meeting.

These big crowds heard British MP from the anti-war Respect party George Galloway link the global rise of Islamophobia with the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Israeli occupation of Palestine and similar imperial crusades to exploit the resources and peoples of the Middle East and elsewhere.

The other speakers were Javed Khan, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ, Paul Buchanan, an internationally recognised expert on threat assessment, and RAM organiser Grant Morgan.

The more than 1200 people who attended the two Auckland Voices of Peace meetings contrasted sharply with the pathetic 30 who turned out to the Wellington leg of "Mosques and Miracles", the race hate touring show fronted by a group of professional Islamophobes from Australia.

According to Morgan, "I have been informed that less than 200 turned up to the Auckland Mosques and Miracles meeting yesterday at the Greenlane Christian Centre. Again, this was way below the calculations of the organisers."

"The tiny numbers turning up to hear the Aussie Islamophobes, compared to the over 1200 Aucklanders attending the two Auckland Voices of Peace meetings, is a heartening sign that the vast majority of Christians and other people in New Zealand want a society built on the principle of social inclusion, not communal conflict", said Morgan.

"However, we must not underestimate the potential threat posed by these Islamophobes who are claiming that every mosque is a 'centre of war' where New Zealand Muslims are plotting to destroy surrounding cities and terrorise, rape and kill non-Muslims. As Galloway pointed out, when Adolf Hitler started making similar comments about Jews in Germany, he was treated as a 'music hall joke'. We must tackle this threat in New Zealand before the poisonous lies of the Islamophobes infect the body politic.

"At the Voices of Peace meeting, I pledged that RAM would be campaigning around the theme 'We all belong here' in the September council elections. All good people must unite to defend our Muslim sisters and brothers from the race hate lies of the Aussie Islamophobes and their New Zealand cronies."