Thursday, 23 September 2010

celebrating eid, again

i went to wellington for dinner last night. i know, it sounds pretty extravagant, but i thought it was a good cause. last night was the formal eid celebration in parliament, hosted by the minister of ethnic affairs. it was a tradition started by hon chris carter, and i'm glad it has been continued by this government. even if it's just a PR exercise, it has a lot of meaning in terms of recognition of our community.

the prime minister chose to attend, full cold and all. he's certainly not the most polished of public speakers, and there were a couple of gaffe's - not anything major. the one thing i took exception to (and i would!) was his description of the muslim community as a migrant community. i think that we've gone way past that now, as has the chinese community, the indian community & many others. given that the first muslims came to nz in the nineteenth century, the first prayer house was bought in the 1960s and mosques were built in the 1980s, i would have thought we could be thought of as locals now.

i was sitting at a table with a grandmother who is an english convert, along with her daughter & grand-daughter both of whom were born in nz. her great-grandchildren weren't present, but they are born in nz as well. we were later joined by a samoan convert, who has been in this country for decades. the friend i stayed with has a mixed dutch & fijian heritage, and is also born in nz.

yes, i know that many in the community are most recent migrants, but i would still maintain that we are an established community. we are locals, and it's time to stop calling us migrants and to start calling us what we really are: kiwi muslims. we belong here, we're a part of this country, and it's time for that to be acknowledged.

there was plenty of acknowledgement by the PM of the importance of trade ties, particular the halal trade market & the free trade agreement with malaysia. i guess that's to be expected. and i have to say that i haven't seen hon pansy wong looking so happy, ever. she was the host for the evening, and seemed to be really enjoying her role. and even though i disagree with almost everything she stands for, it was really nice to see that and it was nice to be welcomed and hosted so warmly.

so yes, it was definitely worth the trip. even though these events are symbolic, they speak volumes about the celebration of diversity in this country.

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