The Crescent Moon: The Asian Face of Islam in New Zealand

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The Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives,' said US President Barack Obama. President Obama has spoken of…

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The Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives,' said US President Barack Obama.

President Obama has spoken of 'finding a new way forward' in the relationship between America and the world's Muslim population, something which the Asia New Zealand Foundation's Director of Culture says also resonates in New Zealand and among its Asian Muslim population.The Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives,' said US President Barack Obama.

President Obama has spoken of 'finding a new way forward' in the relationship between America and the world's Muslim population, something which the Asia New Zealand Foundation's Director of Culture says also resonates in New Zealand and among its Asian Muslim population.Jennifer King says New Zealand, like the rest of the world, was also deeply affected by the attacks in New York in 2001. "The September 11 attacks created a huge chasm between the Muslim world and the rest and fuelled an atmosphere of fear and distrust. It is important to help build 'mutual interest and mutual respect' in this country too."

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is launching a book and an exhibition next month that gives faces and voices to the Asian Muslims who live in New Zealand.

Author Adrienne Jansen and renowned documentary photographer Ans Westra were commissioned to travel New Zealand to create The Crescent Moon: The Asian Face of Islam in New Zealand. They met, interviewed, and photographed an ethnically, culturally, and theologically diverse group who were disarmingly honest.

One of those featured in the new book, Shegufta Molla said '9/11 was very painful because America had been my home since I was four years old, but I didn't want my kids growing up thinking they were bad because they were different, so we came to New Zealand.' Noorayesha Jones and Shaystah Dean are two students who feel distrust affects their daily lives, 'Because I dress as a Muslim, people make assumptions,' says Dean. 'I'm endlessly having to explain why I'm not going to blow myself up,' says Jones.

Other people whose pictures and stories feature in The Crescent Moon include halal butcher Yakub Khan whose sausages do a roaring trade among Muslims and non-Muslims alike in the Wellington suburb of Newtown; Mahmood and Fatima Bhikoo whose grandchildren are fifth generation New Zealanders and who own and operate the Hollywood Dairy on Auckland's Dominion Road; Najib Lafraie who served as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in the government of Afghanistan and teaches politics at the University of Otago; and Mohammad Amir, imam of Wellington's Kilbirnie mosque.

'Muslims of Asian descent make up the largest proportion of Muslims in the world, and they are an integral part of the fabric of New Zealand society too,' says King. 'The first to arrive here were Chinese gold miners 130 years ago.'

"The Crescent Moon: The Asian Face of Islam in New Zealand" features 37 individuals and will be launched at Pataka Museum and Gallery on Thursday 19th February.

About the author:
Adrienne Jansen has published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and in particular has worked alongside immigrants to record their experiences. A long-time teacher of English to new migrants, she was co-founder of one of the first home tutoring language programmes in New Zealand. In 1993 she established the creative writing programme at Whitireia Community Polytechnic. She works as a writer at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and teaches creative writing. She and her family live in Wellington.

About the photographer:
Ans Westra was born in the Netherlands and came to New Zealand as a young adult. She has recorded much of the country's social history in a career in documentary photography spanning almost fifty years. In 1998 she was awarded the Companion of the Order of New Zealand Merit for services to photography and in 2007 she became an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon artist. Her most recent major exhibition, Handboek: Ans Westra, toured widely. She lives in Wellington.

"The Crescent Moon: The Asian Face of Islam in New Zealand", photographs by Ans Westra, text by Adrienne Jansen, is published by Asia New Zealand Foundation, RRP NZ$45, ISBN 978-0-9582964-0-3

The book will be available to purchase from all good bookstores or online through www.nzbooksabroad.com from 19 February 2009. There are plans for the exhibition to tour New Zealand and Asia.

Contacts:

To arrange interview times or text and images for extract please contact freelance book publicist Kathryn Carmody:
Email: kathryn.carmody@gmail.com
Landline: 04 385 7070
Mobile: 027 287 7963

www.asianz.org.nz

18/02/09

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

17 Feb 2009

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