A Christchurch Muslim community advocate says he encountered racist abuse throughout his upbringing.

By | September 5, 2019

Grew up in New Zealand, like every other migrant child that comes here didn’t feel like we belonged… throughout my whole life I felt that same way. Family felt the same way as well. We didn’t feel like we really belong in New Zealand society. My perspective of life has completely changed and that is because, I feel, the experiences that I had back in Afghanistan. Reporter: What sort of experiences? In Afghanistan I… especially that the times that I was having a difficult time, I met people who were in really really terrible situations, but still looked at me and smiled with a smile that I have never seen here before. Especially… young people, like I see my my cousins and stuff and they don’t have that same smile that a young kid in Afghanistan that I met had. And that young kid
in Afghanistan had nothing. So we arrived in Royal Oak in Auckland, which is predominately a white area, I didn’t get along at primary school at all, especially after September 11th happened. Me being a brown kid, I was picked out easily. Kids would bully us for no reason and I didn’t understand it at that time, I had no clue what terrorism was,
I had no clue who Osama bin Laden was. So that kind of I just brushed that off throughout my entire years of being a young person. I brushed that off, brush that off, and so one day in year 10… I’ll never forget, semester two there was one person I won’t say his name.
He used to always pick on me, and do gun signs at me, to
basically tell me that I’m a terrorist And all those years of experiencing hatred and me brushing it off. I had absorbed enough and I had enough.
So I lashed out, and I basically gave him a really good hiding. And I was suspended from school, and the kid who was bullying me for a long time didn’t get anything. Looking back at it now,
I don’t blame that kid at all. That kid had no idea why he was doing that.
That kid had no education on my religion, on my background. So I can’t blame that kid, you know. Reporter: The racism and discrimination, that really had a profound effect on you. Didn’t it? Yeah, it did, it did.
I feel like that’s where it started from because
even in intermediate school I used to watch TV, I used to see the news and I used to see what was happening back home in Afghanistan obviously, bombings and stuff like that, and that really affected me and that…. that caused me to have a hatred inside myself
towards people of fairer skin. So I was basically a racist myself at the time, even through high school and that’s why… that sense of hatred or racism that I had inside of me, kind of caused me to lash out against that guy as well, instead of going up to him and being like: ‘yo, what’s the problem? I know you have this type of
hatred towards me what’s the problem?’
But because of the hatred that I had inside of myself as well, I didn’t do that. I felt better lashing out and giving him a hiding, which basically resulted in me getting suspended six times from that same school, because of ongoing troubles that I had. Reporter: What was burning inside you, and did you really feel like you didn’t belong in New Zealand, Did you want to go back, or did you want to just
end things here, and cut your ties with the New Zealand? No, because I saw the good side of
New Zealand as well. Like I said, looking back at it now, the bad sides were always with people that were uneducated, that didn’t have any knowledge of a
globalised world, basically… but as I grow older now, and as I go into university and I meet people that are open-minded, that are educated I don’t see much of that.

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