Following the killings at two Christchurch mosques, the Masjid al Noor andLinwood Masjid, tertiary education providers around the country haveexpressed their shock and sadness at the attacks, their condolences to allthose affected, and their assertion of shared values of respect, empathyand inclusivity.Around New Zealand, education providers have put out messages assuringstaff and students that support is and will continue to be provided on ourcampuses.“My heart goes out to all members of the Muslim community, includingmembers of the University’s Muslim Association. We stand shoulder toshoulder with our Muslim community with love and support”. University ofOtago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene HayneSadly, several members of the Christchurch tertiary education communitywere directly affected by the attacks, with engineering lecturer MohammedElyan, and Canterbury College tutor Haroon Mahmood, both killed in theattacks. Many more still have had friends and loved ones directly affectedand all major tertiary education providers were in lockdown for severalhours following the attack.Staff and students have been encouraged to make use of the support networksand pastoral care provided by education providers and by the wider campuscommunity, both formally and informally.Tertiary education providers have also expressed their solidarity with theMuslim community and against racism and xenophobia, with the University ofOtago organising a silent march, and Victoria University of Wellington(VUW) students encouraged to express themselves through words and chalk artin memorial books and ‘support walls’ at the university’s campuses.There will no doubt be more expressions of solidarity in the weeksahead.In a message sent out to staff and students on behalf of VUWVice-Chancellor Grant Guilford points to the role tertiary educationproviders must take in beginning to make sense of the tragedy, and thewider implications for New Zealand. This must include asking some toughquestions around racism, islamophobia and exclusion, even as wereaffirm those core principles of inclusion, tolerance, and thecollective.“We have begun to plan further ways to mark this tragedy, to extend ourlove and support to our Muslim whānau, to reject and condemn theactions—as well as the societal context—that led to these murders.These plans need to be sensitively developed in a way that respects thewishes of the Muslim community and takes into account the advice of thepolice”.
The Council of Christians and Muslims urges all to reach out to Muslimneighbours, workmates, and friends. The immediate need is to offer love, support,sympathy, and space to grieve in the short-term. The longer-term need being tocontinually build understanding and to address inherited prejudice andmisunderstandings that separate communities.
Please contact your local organiseror [email protected] for support fromour team.Other supportLifeline on 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE), or text 1737.Victim Support 24-hour crisis line on 0800 VICTIM or 0800 842 846