The first Muslim Community Reference Group meeting, with the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Attack on Christchurch Mosques, was held in Christchurch last month.
“I was humbled by the dedication of all members to their communities and to helping us with this important work,” says Royal Commission Chair Sir William Young.
“We’re encouraged by the participation in the Muslim Community Reference Group and we appreciate the willingness to engage with and advise the Royal Commission especially from those who have already suffered so much,” says Royal Commission Member Jacqui Caine.
The Muslim Community Reference Group, like the Royal Commission, is keenly aware of the need to consider those most deeply affected by the attacks on 15 March 2019.
“At the heart of our work are the 51 people who lost their lives and the relatives, friends and fellow Muslims who grieve them. Much has been asked of them already. We are also deeply mindful of the need to respect Muslim events and practices like the iddah grieving period, Ramadan and the hajj. We will give the families and victims all the time and space they need and have invited them to meet with us on their terms and in a way that suits them,” said Sir William.
The Muslim Community Reference Group will help to ensure the Royal Commission process builds in appropriate and accessible opportunities for Muslim communities to take part in the inquiry.
The Royal Commission began its community engagement in the week of 13 May with meetings in Christchurch with Muslim religious leaders, the Christchurch Muslim Liaison Group, Ngāi Tahu leaders and the Mayor of Christchurch City. The establishment of the Muslim Community Reference Group enhances the work already underway to connect with the communities.
A wide range of nominations went into the mix to determine the make-up of the group, which has been designed to be as representative as possible.
Criteria for ensuring the right balance included, gender, ethnicity, religious viewpoint, age, geographical location and member’s individual and valuable connections to their communities.
The Muslim Community Reference Group is just one way the Royal Commission is engaging with Muslim communities and engagement with other communities is increasing.
The Royal Commission now has a full team of community engagement experts with diverse backgrounds, skills and experiences. These include an understanding of Muslim communities, refugees, race relations, social exclusion, and dealing with trauma and grief.
The Royal Commission would like to hear from anyone with suggestions on how we can best engage with all New Zealand communities to help with our inquiries. It is still calling for submissions from the public and has extended this opportunity through to 23 August.
Muslim Community Reference Group members have agreed for their names to be shared:
- Abdullah Drury
- Abdur Razzaq Khan
- Akram Kawa
- Aliya Danzeisen
- Altamash Askari
- Anjum Rahman
- Azad Khan
- Dr Anwar Ghani
- Bariz Shah
- Fatimah Ali
- Firoz Patel
- Ikhlaq Kashkari
- Haris Murtaza
- Jasim Adam
- Javed Dadabhai
- Kalim Ullah
- Masooma Mehdi
- Melissa Lama
- Mohamed Diab
- Dr Mohammed Rizwan
- Noeleen van de Lisdonk
- Rafik Patel
- Regina Rasheed
- Rehanna Ali
- Sahra Ahmed
- Shadia Amin
- Shahed Abu Jwaied
- Shagaf Khan
- Shaymaa Arif
- Sheikh Mohammad Amir
- Sondos Qur'aan
- Soraiya Daud
- Tyrone Smith
- Dr Zainab Radhi
- Zulfiqar Butt
There are a number of invitees to the group who are still considering membership.
We understand there may also be some members of the Muslim Community Reference Group who may later decide the process is not for them and that’s ok.
We appreciate the contributions of everyone we engage with, particularly those who are grieving the losses of 15 March, while supporting survivors and a broader community recovery.
We expect at least four further meetings with the Muslim Community Reference Group, during the course of the inquiry, in addition to individual engagements.
People who need assistance to make a submission, or have any questions about the process, should contact the Royal Commission by emailing email@example.com or by calling 0800 222 987.