Muslim community advocate disappointed with Crusaders' consideration to keep name

3:24 pm on 4 April 2019

A Muslim community advocate says ditching the sword-wielding horsemen from the Crusaders' pre-match entertainment is not enough - the name has to go.

Crusaders horsemen at the Super rugby quarter final in July 2018.

Crusaders horsemen at the Super rugby quarter final in July 2018. Photo: Photosport

Yesterday, the Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby announced they would seek feedback on the name this season and make a decision before the start of next season.

The Crusades were a series of religious and political wars between Christians and Muslims fought in the 11th and 13th centuries, and since the mosque attacks there has been debate over the appropriateness of the Crusaders' name.

Advocate Guled Mire said it was clearly inappropriate and the name and the brand must go.

"By keeping the name in itself, which is actually quite distasteful, that's not a viable option so I'm disappointed that's being considered because for me that defeats the whole purpose."

Mr Mire said this discussion should have happened sooner.

"Certainly, I think it should have happened many a week or two weeks ago, but definitely a right call that the Crusaders have made."

However, Christchurch City councillor Raf Manji said it was good they had taken their time.

"The Crusaders have taken the right approach here and that is to sit on it for a couple of weeks and see how their internal team feels as well as the reaction from the public.

"I can understand people saying it's a knee-jerk reaction and it's a bit PC and all the rest of it, but it's not. They're actually being really considerate."

Mr Manji said ultimately it would be up to New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders team, whether the name was a brand they were comfortable promoting.

Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand president Mustafa Farouk said anything that reinforced unity was a good thing.

"We all have to look at the bigger goal. New Zealand has decided we are one family and we are going to walk together and anything that will create misgivings is going to be done away with.

"So if this is the reason the Crusaders are going to do what they are going to do then I think it should be applauded."

He said it was fine if people thought the name should not be changed.

"I'm not going to deny that for a lot of people they have that brand and they are attached to that brand and we can't tell them that they shouldn't feel that way but we all have to look at the bigger picture, the bigger goal."

"But that doesn't mean we should look down on the people who say the name should not be changed."

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The sword-wielding horsemen will be dropped from the Crusaders' pre-match entertainment. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge wanted to make it clear that while they valued the opinion of the Muslim community, he did not want the name change to be up to them.

"We don't think it's fair to put that community under pressure, both in terms of engaging them in that conversation - frankly they're too polite to say what they feel - so we're not going to put them in that position.

"We're also really nervous about inciting the wrong behaviour from our community."

Mr Mansbridge said the sword-wielding horsemen in the pre-match entertainment would be dropped for the rest of the season.

New Zealand Rugby head Steve Tew said yesterday that keeping the symbolism, combined with the Crusaders name, was untenable.

Feedback would be collected this season, and following that the Crusaders and NZ Rugby Boards would make a final decision.

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