Demands for clarity on donations from national Islamic groups

7:50 pm on 28 June 2019

One of the people who helped save lives during the mosque shootings says some national Islamic bodies have not been upfront about money donated for the victims of the attack.

Abdul Aziz, witness of Linwood mosque shooting

Photo: RNZ/ Conan Young

Abdul Aziz, who confronted the gunman at the Linwood mosque, met with Wigram MP Megan Woods today to raise his concerns, and was joined by about 15 supporters.

Mr Aziz said a number of Islamic organisations based in Auckland had taken donations for people affected by the mosque attacks, and he wanted audits carried out to determine what happened to the funds.

He said the groups should tell all the victims how much money had been collected, and whether it was for the injured and bereaved only or for all victims.

Mr Aziz said that in his view everyone at the mosques on the day of the attack were victims, who are suffering.

He said the way the donations were being dealt with was creating more division within the muslim community.

"I would like the government to take FIANZ [the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand] and all those groups out of the South Island," Mr Aziz said.

"Because when they come here it doesn't help us. It creates more division and we are the ones who have to collect all the pieces when they are gone because they aren't based here, they are all based in Auckland or Wellington. They come here as our leaders, but we don't accept them as our leaders."

Dr Woods said Internal Affairs did carry out audits of registered charitable trusts and she would pass on the concerns raised to the Office of Ethnic Communities.

She said she had also explained to Mr Aziz that the government could not interfere with the running of an independent organisation, but could ensure they complied with the law.

Science and Innovation Megan Woods at the Auckland Botanic Gardens.

Wigram MP Megan Woods. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Dr Woods also said she would communicate some of his concerns to the wider Muslim communities, and his desire that the local Muslim community's voice be conveyed to the Christchurch Foundation when it came to making decisions about the remaining funds.

Islamic organisations, which have collected millions in donations for victims of the mosque shootings, said they were just following the will of the donors.

Ahmad Zainedin, the coordinator for six Islamic organisations including the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, said donors instructed them to give the money to the bereaved and injured.

"Basically we are acting on their behalf," Mr Zainedin said. "At the same time it is a gift, not compensation."

He said the groups were working with Victim Support and Internal Affairs and all the funds would be audited.

Mr Zainedin said there was still more than $2 million to be handed out, but the groups were waiting to find out how the donors wanted it distributed.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs