Wednesday, 7 September 2011

eid at parliament

ow, ow, ow. i've just been to my first karate session (well the first of four, let's see what happens after that), and my muscles are already sore. i hate to think of what's to come tomorrow. i've had a long soak in a hot bath (and i'm currently a huge fan of lush, especially these), which has helped. it's my own fault for being so terribly unfit. my level of fitness has really dropped in the last couple of years for various reasons. maybe things will start improving soon.

part of the class was some basic self-defense moves. i'm in two minds about this. on the one hand, i shouldn't need self-defense and by doing this, i buy in to the notion that i'm more responsible for keeping me safe than another person is responsible for not harming me. on the other hand, it does feel empowering to know some cool moves. maybe there's also a natural human tendency to aggression - the kind of thing that causes people to enjoy sports like boxing or even rugby - because i can't deny that i enjoyed the kicks and punches. however, there is the fact that i was punching & kicking the air, and i'd probably find it extremely difficult to actually do this to another person with the knowledge that i was causing pain.

in other news, i got back from wellington this morning. i basically went to wellington for dinner last night, which sounds extravagant. but it was actually for the official eid function at parliament, hosted by the minister of ethnic affairs. this function has been happening for several years now, and was an initiative of chris carter & ashraf choudhary. the same chris carter who was giving his valedictory speech at exactly the same time.

i couldn't get to the speech, though i had planned to, because there was a mix-up with the invitations, and a friend of mine from the buddhist community wasn't allowed into the function, even though there were plenty of people willing to vouch for her. it was extremely frustrating, and i was really sad that she had to go back home. the minister's office really need to do better, especially when this is a person who has attended many eid functions in years past.

still, despite this glitch, i think it's symbolically important that this celebration happens in parliament, and that it is organised by the government. it's an important recognition of the diversity of nz, and the fact that the muslim community is an established part of this country. in the same way that parliament celebrates diwali and chinese new year. the funny thing is that they don't formally celebrate any christian festival, unless there's some official xmas party i haven't heard of. on the other hand, the daily prayer at the start of each sitting day is pretty christian-based, so they get their formal recognition that way.

another nice note was the attendance of the young women from the waikato, some of whom were featured in the herald on sunday article. they've been on a road trip to wellington, where they've met various ministers, MPs and public servants. here's hoping that one of these young women steps into an important leadership role in the future.

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