Councillors express Muslim support

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“We stand with you in solidarity and aroha.”

That was the message to the Muslim community from Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull when speaking about the Christchurch terror attack during a special Dunedin City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Emotions were high as councillors expressed their outrage and anguish at the attack, vowed to support their Muslim “brothers and sisters”, and called for racism in New Zealand to stop.

Mr Cull assured members of the Muslim community they were not alone.

“You are not a separate group of outsiders in our community. You are part of us.”

He urged people to “say no to even the slightest hint of racial and cultural abuse”.

Brushing aside and ignoring seemingly minor acts of racial discrimination “only serves to normalise them”, he said.

Mr Cull was proud of the support the city had shown the Muslim community in the wake of the attack.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said he experienced a shift from “hope to horror” on Friday, as he went from watching thousands of school pupils take part in a climate change protest in Dunedin, to hearing about the mosque attack.

Cr Jim O’Malley expressed his love for the Muslim community, and apologised that it took so long for the country to do so.

He said the comments made by Australian senator Fraser Anning marked the “lowest point” in Australia’s “hate-based” politics.

Cr Lee Vandervis encouraged people to make the world a kinder place by reaching out to friends and family, while Cr Andrew Whiley acknowledged the emergency services in Christchurch and Dunedin.

Deputy mayor Chris Staynes and councillors Christine Garey, Damian Newell, Marie Laufiso, David Benson-Pope and Rachel Elder also spoke.

Councillors voted unanimously to express abhorrence at the attack and support the Muslim community.