11:00 - April 23, 2019
News ID: 3468355
TEHRAN (IQNA) – Plans are under way to establish a mosque and community center to better represent the Islamic community in Timaru, a port city in the southern Canterbury region of New Zealand.


Muslim community leader Mansoor Shah says the Timaru Muslim Educational Trust has entered into a contract to purchase the Sacred Heart Parish Centre, on Napier Rd, for $425,000 and if everything goes according to plan, the fledgling community will have a formal place of worship within five months. 

"We have got a contract in place and we are paying it off," Shah said.   

"We have paid a deposit and are now fundraising for the remainder."

Shah said people of any religion needed a place of worship in close proximity to them to practice their religion and educate their community.

"We want our community to learn a few things and make it easier for us to know Islam better," he said.

"While it is a mosque more of it will be about getting the community to understand Islam - more of an educational factor."

Shah said as Timaru had been designated as a place for refugees and they expected the Muslim population in the town to double within a year, it meant the mosque would also serve as a community center.

Community services would provide refugees help with understanding the language and local practices, he said.

"Most of these people are from the Middle East, and this gives them a community to come to.

"They have never seen a church before, they've never seen Red Cross before, many of them have never lived with Europeans before so it is a huge culture shock."

Shah said the trust wanted to give refugees the best chance of adapting to life in Timaru.

"Initially we will bring them into the community and show them who people in Timaru are and they have a place to belong," he said.

"Some people will thrive, some people won't. We want everybody to thrive here. We don't want somebody to be just left behind and become a non-productive person of New Zealand."

He said the Muslim community in Timaru consisted of about 12 young families and many more seasonal workers who return home during the off season.

"We have a lot of young people from the ages of two to 15," Shah said.

"We really need to give them the environment in which they need to learn."

During a visit to the Aoraki Migrant Centre last week Minister of Community and Voluntary Sector Peeni Henare said he was pleased to see that plans were being made to build a mosque in Timaru

"The mosque will not only be used as a place of worship, it will also be a community center or hub," Henare said. 

"It was awesome to hear about the support from the Aoraki Migrant Centre that goes into the project that will benefit the wider community."

Aoraki Migrant Centre manager Katy Houstoun said it was great to have the needs of local communities met.

"As New Zealanders it is important to celebrate our uniqueness and diversity," Houstoun said.

"Having our own mosque in Timaru would benefit not only the Muslim community but the wider community with providing a central place to bring people together for worship, education and celebration."

Shah said it was high time to put facilities in place for newcomers and the incumbent Muslim community to communicate better and create a better understanding with the people of Timaru.

"We are here and definitely want to be a part of the community. We definitely want to engage, we've been blessed by the outpouring of love and support so we want to respond in kind," he said.

"This is home so we should definitely engage better."



Tags: IQNA ، mosque ، New Zealand
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