Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick has shared a Muslim man's poignant perspective of New Zealand in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings.
Her friend Mukseet shared his thoughts about the attacks that killed 50 people, revealing he's "always" experienced racism in New Zealand — but he still believes "that Aotearoa is the greatest place on earth".
"There are better, more intelligent people than me who will more eloquently and articulately explain the background and repercussions of what happened on Friday. So I just wanted to say a few things not as any authority or expert, but as me; a Muslim immigrant, a New Zealander," Mukseet wrote.
"Growing up as a brown boy, and (especially post 9/11) as a Muslim in New Zealand, I've always experienced racism in various forms. Kids calling me curry muncher or terrorist, telling me my clothes smell or laughing at my oily hair. From being excluded from playing Catch and Kiss (in hindsight, what a f*ing terrible game) to Tinder profiles that say 'no Indians' (something which, technically, I am not, so you know I'm swiping right).
"I've also been followed and yelled at by white men in cars while I went for a run (maintaining my fit bod), and had to remain calm while my mum has been harassed in the street and in the shops for wearing her hijab. I've helped clean swastikas off the wall of my local mosque, and I've picked up mail from my letter box only to find messages telling me to go back to where I came from.
"All of the above; plus being pushed, shoved, yelled at, stared at, laughed at, and whispered about (let's not even get into how drastically the number of call backs I got from potential employers jumped when I changed from Mukseet to 'Muks').
"The point of this isn't to show you some sort of twisted résumé of abuse, but just to highlight that this is New Zealand, and this sh** happens. All the time, and not just to me, or brown people, or Muslim people. It happens to my Samoan mates, to my Hindu friends, and my queer friends. It happens to all of us.
"But you'll find me in Massey. For the last 25 years, and the next 25. Not London or Melbourne, but Massey. Because, as I did on Thursday, and on my way to Juma prayer on Friday, and as I do sitting here on a Sunday; I genuinely believe that Aotearoa is the greatest place on earth. Just this morning my mum came home from her morning walk and she looked stoked, big ole smile from cheek to cheek. Before I got a chance to ask her what was going on, the phone rang (as it has been, non-stop for the last 3 days) and she picked up.
"I watched my mum bursting with pride as she recounted to my aunty in Bangladesh the story of how she went for a walk this morning, and a white woman came up to her, greeted her as a friend, took her hands and said 'I'm so sorry for your loss'.
"In these, the worst of times, the best in people has really been brought into sharp focus. The messages of support and love that I (and all my homies) have received over the last couple of days has been overwhelming and incredibly humbling. Your messages mean a lot. Your support means a lot. They have brought me to tears, helped to keep me grounded, and brought me back from some really dark places. But if I'm to be honest; they're not enough. Action is so much harder than apathy. But look where apathy and complacency got us.
"In these times when hate and bigotry no longer have to hide in the shadows; listen to minorities, talk to those around you, if you hear someone spouting hate, call that shit out. Rally your politicians and leaders. Be that lady in the park.
"I don't have anything to say about the victims and those who survive them. I have no words, nothing to add that will bring any semblance of comfort. I weep for you, and I pray for you, and I hope that your sacrifice has not been in vain. 'Verily, with every hardship, there is relief.' (94:6)"
Swarbrick revealed that she shared his story as "voices like his should be front and centre as we grapple with the racism and hatred and intolerance that led to this violence".
"We must listen. We must learn. We must grow. We must do better."