The Manukau mosque was a popular training hangout of Te Amorangi Kireka-Whaanga and his team while he was based at the Avondale with his FIANZ sponsored prison visiting ministry. Kiwi Muslims are quick to point out that the main victims of Islamic terrorism overseas, after the ethnic cleansing of Christians, are Muslims themselves. There is a fear amongst many New Zealand Muslims that their opposition Islamic groups will continue the violent doctrinal arguments from back home over here, as was the case in Avondale several years ago. There is no requirement for visitors or immigrants to give up their devote Islamic beliefs when they visit or immigrate to New Zealand. They want protecting, not from local Kiwis, but from the foreigners, and at taxpayer expense, not their own.
Mohammed Afiz is a trustee at Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in Manukau. He supports the decision for police to have armed response teams.
When the Jamia Masjid mosque was fire bombed, Mohammed Afiz had a good idea of who the culprits were.
For weeks a group of men would routinely drive past, hurling racist insults out the car window, urging the worshippers “back to your own country”.
That was two decades ago, before the mosque terror attacks in Christchurch, and at a time when “guns were not needed”, Afiz said.
But if another attack happens, he would prefer police were armed and ready.
In three days, police armed response units will be deployed in three districts: south Auckland, Christchurch and Waikato.
The six-month pilot, which starts on Monday, was a response to what Police Commissioner Mike Bush called a changed “operating environment” since the mosque shootings.
Bush cited “growth in organised crime” and the impact of methamphetamine-fuelled offending as factors justifying the new teams.
Despite growing concerns from leaders in the south Auckland community, Afize, a trustee for the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in Manukau, said support for armed police was widespread among the Islamic community.
And more so with the recent shootings in Germany.
“I am always of the opinion that it’s nice to have something and not need, rather than need something and not have it.
“Police are here to defend everybody but if they can’t even protect themselves then how can they defend us?”
Afiz said he can see how the introduction of armed police can be concerning for some, but he believes it’s the best way to protect the community.
In an earlier statement, Police Minister Stuart Nash, said the pilot would be closely monitored and the new project did not mean police were moving to routine arming.
“The three areas have been selected for the trial because of the incidence of crimes involving armed offenders,” Nash said.
Private investigator and former detective Tim McKinnel, said while armed police are necessary in emergencies, he doesn’t believe roving teams belong in communities.
He also questioned the justification for their introduction.
“You look at those terror-type attacks globally and they’re used to introduce new draconian laws and processes – I think we should be better than that.
“If on the evidence there is a case – and it shows we need these types of things – then perhaps we have to accept that as a society we need them.
“But the argument that was mounted, and particularly around March 15, was particularly weak given the way they have commended themselves – and quite rightly – on how police responded.”
McKinnel said not much information is available about the tactical framework and for communities to be satisfied, evidence needs to be provided.
“[The announcement by Bush] appeared to me to be a fairly slick presentation, which is fine, but it seems to be controlled messaging and all those sorts of things.
“The community would want to hear from their community officers.
“If these roving patrols are going to be used in our communities, are they going to measure who gets policed and where? Other than police prosecution and prison records, we don’t know what those interactions look like.”