‘We have never seen anything like this’: New Zealand expat in the UAE says

A demonstrator holds a banner during a vigil in London on Friday. (AP)
Updated 16 March 2019
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‘We have never seen anything like this’: New Zealand expat in the UAE says

DUBAI: New Zealand Muslims expressed shock and disbelief at terrorist attacks on two Christchurch mosques on Friday that left at least 49 worshippers dead and 50 others critically injured.

“We’ve never seen anything like this in New Zealand. It’s not what we are about,” Shamim Kassibawi, a publicist from New Zealand and UAE resident, told Arab News.

“We had Arabic and Islam school every Sunday, we were allowed to practice … it’s shocking,” she said.

Shamim Kassibawi, a publicist from New Zealand living in the UAE.

“New Zealand is open to any religion and faith. Actually, religion is never discussed, so this is really new. I typically go back twice a year and my mother is (veiled) … we walk through airports, we go to the mall, no one looks at you twice,” she added.

Kassibawi spoke of the support she received after news of the terrorist attacks broke.

“All my friends back home, the Kiwis, they are messaging me, and sending lots of love and support. They’re putting up all these messages about how the Muslim community is a part of us,” she said.

Seen at a vigil in London on Friday. (AP)

The South Auckland Muslim Association issued a statement saying that it is “deeply saddened and disturbed by the attack on the Muslim community, targeted while at prayer.”

New Zealand’s last census in 2013 showed there were just over 46,000 Muslims in the country — a mere 1 percent of the population. 

The number of people identifying as Muslims rose by 28 percent between 2006 and 2013, according to Stats NZ, and just over a quarter were born in New Zealand.

After the Christchurch attacks, Mustafa Farouk, president of the Islamic Associations of New Zealand, said that the community had always felt safe in the South Pacific nation.

“We feel that we are living in the safest country in the world. We never expected anything like this could happen,” he told television station TVNZ.

“Muslims have been living in New Zealand (for) over 100 years and nothing has ever happened to us like this, so this is not going to change the way we feel about New Zealand.”

At least 49 people, including children, were killed, and 50 others critically injured when a gunman opened fire on Masjid Al-Noor mosque and Linwood mosque in Christchurch.

Police detained three men and a woman, and later charged one man with murder.

One of the four detained after the mass shootings is Australian, said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

(With AFP)


Pakistan bracing for austere budget under IMF, finance chief says

Updated 52 min 35 sec ago
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Pakistan bracing for austere budget under IMF, finance chief says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is preparing a belt-tightening budget to tame its fiscal deficit, the de facto finance minister said on Saturday, adding that both civilian and military rulers agreed austerity measures were needed to stabilise the economy.
But Hafeez Shaikh, Prime Minister Imran Khan's top finance adviser, declined to say whether the military's hefty budget would be cut following last week's agreement in principle with the International Monetary Fund for a $6 billion loan.
The IMF has said the primary budget deficit should be trimmed by the equivalent of $5 billion, but previous civilian rulers have rarely dared to trim defence spending for fear of stoking tensions with the military.
Unlike some other civilian leaders in Pakistan's fragile democracy, Khan appears to have good relations with the country's powerful generals.
More than half of state spending currently goes on the military and debt-servicing costs, however, limiting the government's options for reducing expenditure.
"The budget that is coming will have austerity, that means that the government's expenditures will be put at a minimum level," Shaikh told a news conference in the capital Islamabad on Saturday, a few weeks before the budget for the 2019/20 fiscal year ending in June is due to be presented.
"We are all standing together in it whether civilians or our military," said Shaikh, a former finance minister appointed by Khan as part of a wider shake-up of his economic team in the last two months.
In the days since last week's agreement with the IMF, the rupee currency dropped 5% against the dollar and has lost a third of its value in the past year.
Under the IMF's terms, the government is expected to let the rupee fall to help correct an unsustainable current account deficit and cut its debt while trying to expand the tax base in a country where only 1% of people file returns.
Shaikh has been told by the IMF that the primary budget deficit -- excluding interest payments -- should be cut to 0.6% of GDP, implying a $5 billion reduction from the current projection for a deficit of 2.2% of GDP.
The next fiscal year's revenue collection target will be 5.55 trillion rupees ($36.88 billion), Shaikh told the news conference, highlighting the need for tough steps to broaden the tax base.