In the wake of the Christchurch tragedy, Muslims from all over the world rushed to New Zealand for support. There were delegations from Australia, US, Canada, UK and many other countries pouring in to show their solidarity and to extend their support to the families of victims.
Islamic forum for Australian Muslims (IFAM) and Charity Australia International (CAI) were not left behind and a high-level delegation comprising of Dr Kashif Aziz, vice president of IFAM, Mr Usaid Khalil, Secretary General of IFAM and Mr Wajahat Rana, Chairman of CAI, landed in Christchurch within a few days after the incident. Mr Khurram Ali Khan, Director CAI and President of IFAM-ACT, joined the delegation later.
The purpose of the delegation was to express deep grief on behalf of Australian Muslims and to coordinate in relief efforts expected from all over the world.
The delegation spent more than 10 days in the city of Christchurch and assisted in relief efforts as much as possible.
Local people and international delegations gathered at many different occasions to show their support to the victim families. The burial ceremony was attended by thousands and participants showed utmost respect and honour to the deceased. There were many tearful voices of New Zealanders including their Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressing her severe grief and sorrow.
The delegation not only helped in burial services, as per Islamic traditions but also held regular meetings with victim families so that their pains could be shared and their hardships could be understood.
The Australian delegation was joined by representatives from Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), ICNA Relief Canada, Helping Hands USA as well offering their condolences as well as financial assistance.
A six-member team of professional Islamic psychiatrists from the US and Australia were also sent to Christchurch to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).
IFAM also sent a women’s delegation, from Women Support Centre, Rooty Hill, NSW to Christchurch in order to offer further support for Christchurch Family Relief (CFR). They conducted regular meetings with Canterbury district health board CDHP and discussed various issues of common interests.
It was emphasised on the importance of doing any relief efforts through Islamic counselors and Islamic rituals to be followed for victim families. There were also meeting sessions with families, to tell them about relief efforts available and various avenues of support and counseling.
Induction training was also conducted for health and community workers so they are better prepared for helping victimised families with respect to their tradition and cultural values. The topics covered in this Session by the panel were the following:
- Sheikh Muhammad Amir – Islam and Religious Rituals
- Sheikh Nizam ul Haq Thanvi –Family and Relationships in Islam
- Sheikh Mohammed Zewada – Cultural Practices within Muslim Families
- Sheikh Abdul Lateef – Support for victims