Terrorist fears warrant tighter immigration regime

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Muslims rise to challenges and opportunities
These are our Leaders of our September 15, 2021 Digital Edition

Venkat Raman, Auckland, September 15, 2021

The terrorist who was killed during an attack at a supermarket in Auckland on September 3, 2021 has prompted New Zealanders- leaders as well as common people – to demand a serious and immediate review of the country’s immigration policy.

More important, the need to revisit the working of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal and how it reaches decisions, overriding those of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has been emphasised again.

This case brought to the fore the same old problem of the Police doing their job and bringing culprits to justice, but they slip away due either to a technicality or apathetic attitude of bureaucrats.

Tight security procedures

Since 9/11, governments around the world have tightened security at all entry points to ensure that terrorists and unwanted elements do not gain access. Passports and luggage are subject to thorough checks so that the safety and security of the country and its people are not undermined. The principle followed is, “Let a thousand innocent people be kept out; not one miscreant should be allowed inside.”

Rightly so.

Far from being xenophobic, we would like to see orderliness and a well-defined policy in place and more importantly, teams of officials who are able to discern the good from the not so good and bring in people who would contribute to our progress and development.

But the functioning of the immigration regime has in recent years been a cause for concern to us, and privately many ministers and government protagonists as well.

Complaints of harassment, inordinate delays in the processing of applications abound, making us wonder if there are right people in the right places doing the right job.

And now the case of an illegal immigrant going scot-free has the making of a scandal.

It is therefore natural that immigration policies and practices have come under attack in recent years, both in newspaper columns and on the public domain.

Every country in the Western World is raising the walls of immigration and introducing levies to filter the number and type of people seeking to migrate.

It may not come as a surprise if New Zealand follows suit.

Muslims rise to challenges and opportunities

Muslims are among the most challenged sections of the New Zealand community.

Some members of the community were victims of hatred following the incident at the Countdown supermarket in Lynn Mall in West Auckland on September 3, 2021. A terrorist, who wounded seven shoppers was shot dead; he was an ISIS sympathiser or follower which led to verbal attacks on Muslims.

Terrorist attacks in the US, UK, Europe, India and Pakistan (not to overlook many countries in the Middle East) have made them targets of attack even as they go about earning a living as honest citizens or doing social and community work.

Muslims praying at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on March 22, 2019, a week after a terrorist killed 51 people (Photo by AFP and other Licensors)

Unfair and unhealthy trend

It is unfair that a community of people, a majority of who are moderate and modest, should be singled out to the disturbances that occur here and elsewhere in the world.

True, there have been instances in some parts of the world wherein some Muslims have breached the law, given vent to their internal differences differently, but most of them are hardworking, simple, honest and peace-loving people.

Branding all of them as terrorists or treating each of them as the villain of the piece does not bode well for New Zealanders who are known as compassionate and friendly people.

We have lived and worked with Muslims over the years and have always found them to be humane and peace-loving people.

Successful community

Their spirit of goodwill and understanding has never been properly understood or appreciated. They belong to this country as much as we do and some of them have in fact been pioneers in a number of areas.

Muslims today are successful lawyers, barristers, solicitors, accountants, consultants, manufacturers, traders, shippers, medical practitioners, media executives and other professionals. Among them are also writers, scholars, and lawmakers. Muslim women are active in various professions and speak out on issues of concern to the community and the country. As we wish them well, we appeal to others to respect their sentiments and help them to follow their faith.

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