Guled Mire: Sentencing just a part of a long healing journey

10:46 am on 28 August 2020

Warning - This story discusses details of the 15 March Christchurch mosque shootings.

Muslim community advocate Guled Mire says that while the New Zealand public has shown incredible aroha to victims of the mosque attacks, there are concerns about how long it will last.

Wellington community advocate Guled Mire helped to organise a peaceful Black Lives Matter march in the capital that attracted thousands of protesters on 14 June, 2020.

Guled Mire speaking at the Black Lives Matter protest in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Rachel Thomas

He said this week has been really important to victims and others in the community, but it's just the start of a long process and the public needs to get on board.

Mire said the process of reading impact statements takes incredible guts.

"I am really glad that the families get the closure that many of them have wanted, but this is part of a long healing journey from here onwards."

He said the Muslim community is a very forgiving one.

"We've seen that time and time again. We will continue to display that even in times of grief, it's something that's very much embedded in our religion and our faith.

"But it's not always easy and sometimes anger and frustration is just as much justified."

Mire said that there's still some soul-searching to be done about how and why an extreme white supremacist lived among us and was able to plan and carry out the attacks.

"It was just over a year ago that this attacked occurred and many in the community were in disbelief and shock that such a thing could ever occur here.

"For many of us, we gave up our time, even in our moment of grief, to be able to explain and talk about our experiences with racism and discrimination growing up in Aoteoroa and our concerns about rising white supremacists and far-right extremists.

"We've never been there, in fact we're far from it."

Mire said for the most part we're a socially progressive country and there are values we hold which we should be immensely proud of.

"But, the truth is, it's not over. This is part of that long healing journey. In many ways, we'll pat ourselves on the back and talk about the response and the aroha."

He said that while that display of aroha, which he personally saw in Christchurch after the attacks, was incredibly important and helpful to the families, there are still uncomfortable realities we must face.

"Many of us are still concerned about how long that's for - is that a day thing? A week thing? Is it just when we're in the headlines? - what about the weeks and years that follow?

"Racism is a problem that needs to be countered. Clearly something went wrong here. Clearly out law enforcement was not looking in the right space. Clearly the threat of white supremacy and extremism was underlooked.

"There's still a lot of questions that need to answered and we hope that the New Zealand public comes with us on that journey."

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