Muslims at Ihumātao: ‘They can always rely on us’

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Muslims at Ihumātao: ‘They can always rely on us’

From Meriana Johnsen, Journalist

Muslim leaders have come to pray with the people of Ihumātao, sharing the pain of having their sacred spaces attacked.

“I am the whenua, the whenua is me”: Many campers have decorated their tents with whakataukī. (PHOTO: RNZ / Meriana Johnsen)

Muslims have also come out to support protesters at Ihumātao on Sunday, 28 July. (PHOTO: RNZ / Meriana Johnsen)

Mana whenua speaker Eru Rakena addressing Māori ministers on Day 5 of the Ihumatao protests. (PHOTO: RNZ)

No caption (PHOTO: Supplied )

No caption (PHOTO: RNZ)

There are about a hundred kaimahi (workers) preparing food, making tea and coffee, and handing out water. (PHOTO: RNZ)

The tino rangatiratanga flag is seen at Ihumātao as the day draws to an end for protesters on the land on Friday, 26 July. (PHOTO: RNZ)

They were welcomed on with a pōwhiri to the site of the disputed land in Māngere this afternoon, where they spoke of the pain they felt with Māori.

“Only a few months ago on 15 March, Muslims were attacked on their houses of prayer in their sacred spaces,” kaikorero Terata Hikairo said during the pōwhiri.

“Fifty-one of them were gunned down and, therefore, we know with our tikanga as Māori they should just stay home and mourn.

“They should be still be mourning in their homes and yet, on the call of Ihumātao, on the call of the desecration of sacred land right here in South Auckland, we have … people of West Africa [here] leading local Muslims from Aotearoa, who should be still be mourning.

“Mourning is happening right here at Ihumātao.”

A Muslim leader greets lawyer Moana Jackson at a powhiri at Ihumātao.

A Muslim leader greets lawyer Moana Jackson at a powhiri at Ihumātao. Photo: RNZ / Meriana Johnsen

West African scholar and author Fode Drame told the crowd his people had also had their land confiscated.

“The knowledge and the land – that was the centre of their tradition and when the French came, they took away slowly, slowly, the land from the people.”

“[Our] way of resistance is through peace and as they say, ‘War is the option of the weak and peace is the option of the strong,’ ” Mr Drame said.

He asked for everyone to cup their hands to the sky as he said a prayer.

The protests at Ihumātao have drawn on the practice of peaceful resistance of Parihaka, with no arrests or altercations since Wednesday despite thousands of people taking part. Protest organisers Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) called for hahi to pray for the land.

Religious groups, from Baptists to Muslims, came to Ihumātao to pray over the land.

Religious groups, from Baptists to Muslims, came to Ihumātao to pray over the land. Photo: RNZ / Meriana Johnsen

Mariam Arif took her two tamariki Faruq and Faris to Ihumātao. She joined family who travelled from Hamilton.

“Most of us as minority groups relate quite a bit to the struggle here [whether it is] the whenua or the reo or the ahurea.”

“We’re just here to show tangata whenua that we are here and if they need anything, they can always rely on us to be by their side.”

She and her sons performed a haka which was the haka created for the Christchurch attacks, rewritten for Ihumātao.

Her son Faruk said it was his way of helping.

“You helped us in our dark days, so I will help you with this haka.”

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