20 Dec 2019

Episode 4: It Was Clearly a Joke - Conversations With My Immigrant Parents

From Conversations With My Immigrant Parents, 12:00 am on 20 December 2019

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Masooma Mehdi outside the mosque her family attends.

Masooma Mehdi outside the mosque her family attends. Photo: Saraid de Silva / Julie Zhu

It Was Clearly a Joke

Masooma Mehdi arrived in Aotearoa at age 13, the age her son Aliyaan is now, from Karachi, Pakistan.  Aliyaan is in his first year of high school and joins this conversation as the podcast’s youngest participant.

Aliyaan Abbas outside his home in East Auckland.

Aliyaan Abbas outside his home in East Auckland. Photo: Saraid de Silva / Julie Zhu

Both mother and son have experienced attending school as a Muslim kid in a country with very little visibility of Muslim New Zealanders.  Though decades apart, their experiences have been similar, with ignorance and a lack of empathy around religious practices combining to ostracise and exclude them.

“I felt quite lonely I remember… It used to be really depressing and that’s why I would just wait for school to finish, and just come back home,” says Masooma.

Aliyaan agrees, “I know a lot of other Muslim kids have been called things like [terrorist]... just because I’m Muslim doesn’t mean I’m part of ISIS because that means if you’re Christian you’re part of KKK.”

The white supremacist attack in Christchurch on March 15th deeply affected their whānau and community.  This episode features mother and son delving deep into a reflection of how they first heard of the attack, their concerns for their community, and how they felt going to visit Al Noor Mosque themselves in the aftermath.

“We didn’t know how New Zealand was going to react.  Most of us Muslims, as soon as we heard about the attack... the very first thing we were like, we hope it is not a Muslim who has done it.”

Series Classification: G (General Programmes)

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(L-R) Podcast hosts Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu.

(L-R) Podcast hosts Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu. Photo: Saraid de Silva / Julie Zhu

Conversations With My Immigrant Parents is a podcast and video series hosted, produced, and directed by Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu.

Saraid de Silva is a Sri Lankan/Pākehā actor and writer.  Her work deals with contemporary feminism and the realities of being a first generation South Asian New Zealander.

Born in China, Julie Zhu is a filmmaker, photographer, and storyteller focused on championing the stories and voices of marginalised identities.

| Twitter: @saraiddesilva@juliezhuu | Instagram: @convoswithmy | Facebook: whereareyoufromreally |

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