Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Most Muslims feeling safe and secure in NZ

AUT researcher Edwina Pio emigrated from India in 2001. Photo / APN
AUT researcher Edwina Pio emigrated from India in 2001. Photo / APN

South Asian Muslims living in Auckland reported feeling safe and secure but some said they had received "prejudicial treatment" in their dealings with New Zealand police because of their ethnicity.

In the research for an AUT University study on ethnicity and policing, one Bangladeshi Muslim taxi driver said he was stopped by police for no reason, and slapped with a $500 infringement for not having a fire extinguisher in his taxi, despite it not being a legal requirement. Another, from Mt Roskill, said police "didn't show much interest" and didn't turn up until the next day after he made a report about a burglary at his house.

All but one of the 16 people interviewed by researchers Sameer Nisar and Edwina Pio for the study were Muslims.

"Overall, the participants revealed that they felt safe and secure in New Zealand, particularly in their contact with the police. They reported that they had never been profiled or stopped due to their affiliations with Islam."

This was described as "very positive", and the report noted that Muslims in many other Western nations, such as the United States and Britain, often claimed to be targeted by police there because of their affiliations to Islam.

Participants said that police here had not treated them differently because of their faith, and rated police here more highly than the police from their country of origin. Overall perceptions were positive, with police seen as "helpful, honest, fair, professional and high in integrity".

"All the participants, especially those of the Muslim faith, felt safe in New Zealand and had never been profiled by the police due to their religious affiliation."

South Asians were the most under-represented group in the police, making up just 0.6 per cent of the 9,000 staff, the study noted. Greater ethnic diversity was needed to represent the rapidly growing South Asian community.

Police national strategic ethnic adviser Rakesh Naidoo said police had invested significant resources and effort to recruit from the South Asian community and work in partnership with diverse communities.

- NZ Herald

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