Love Aotearoa Hate Racism utterly condemn the vile attacks on Auckland candidate Masooma Mehdi, who is standing for election to the Howick Local Board. Last week, some as-yet-unknown racists vandalized her campaign boards, smashing them while leaving the other candidates’ hoardings intact. She has already been targeted by online trolls attacking her for being Muslim, but says that she has also had a lot of support from the community.
This is a clear and deliberate attempt to intimidate Ms. Mehdi and target her based on her faith, and LAHR want to send a clear message – such behaviour is unacceptable and unwelcome in our communities.
Mehdi’s campaign slogan, #YouAreUs, was first used in response to the Christchurch terror attacks to show solidarity with the Muslim community. It is central to her campaign as it was this event that inspired her to take a more active role in politics, and she was one of the founding members of the hugely successful movement aimed at fostering understanding and kindness between ethnic and religious groups. However, while her faith is an important part of her identity, she says that it is not all she represents, and she wants to be seen as a member of the community and a kiwi.
We have reached out to Ms. Mehdi to offer our support, and she has provided us with the following statement.
I was initially quite upset and disheartened by the hateful act of my signs being taken down. It reminded me about the discrimination and racism that we put up with in our daily lives on a regular basis. It made me think that we still have a long way to go in our society.
I felt these hateful actions were more of a result of Islamophobia than racism, which has been inflicted into our society over the last years. Islamophobia is simply caused due to being misinformed about a certain faith and making wrong judgments, affected by mainly the mainstream media. I suggest people should educate themselves about basic principles of Islam and get to know a common Muslim to erase their misconceptions.
One of my Christian-kiwi friends wrote to me:
“Though we were brimming with love and support for the Muslim community only months ago, rallying around to offer practical support, messages of love and promises of ‘doing better’, now this is happening. It goes to show that as support and love for minority groups becomes less ‘trendy’, we must declare it louder than ever before. Masooma, my dear friend, I stand with you alongside many many more. Your voice is important and so needed – now more than ever! Aroha nui and kia kaha. Love conquers all fear & hate!”
I received so many other messages of love and support with offerings of people wanting to help me with putting my signboards up or other campaigning tasks! I realised soon that haters are only few and one day light will surely take over the darkness!
LAHR thank Ms. Mehdi for her time in speaking to us, and reiterate to all of our Muslim brothers and sisters that we stand with them in solidarity against hatred.